National Level Launching of ASTHA Project

On 11 December 2018, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) inaugurated the project  ‘ASTHA: Strengthening Access to Multi-Sectoral Public Services for Gender Based Violence (GBV) Survivors in Bangladesh’. The event was chaired by Sheepa Hafiza, Executive Director, ASK, who started off the event with her opening remarks.

Sheepa Hafiza mentioned that the goal of the project is to assist the efforts of both Government and Civil Society Organizations to reduce gender based violence, and increase utilization of multi-sectoral response services. This goal will be achieved through improving response of multi-sectoral services, and increasing awareness against harmful gender norms and behaviours.

The event began with ASTHA’s theme song and a theatre piece depicting the four types of gender based violence, performed by the drama club of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.

Nasima Begum NDC, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), the Chief Guest of the event, shared “Our government is very quick to respond when it comes to gender based violence, besides 999 (helpline) we have also added 109 so that survivors and those at risk have a direct line to report cases.”

His Excellency Harry Verweij, Ambassador, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Guest of Honor of the event, shared that as Netherlands government gives priority in tackling gender based violence, it is their aim to ensure a life for everyone free from discrimination and violence.

Dr Eiko Narita, Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA, the Guest of Honor of the event emphasized on mental violence as being the hidden and often forgotten violence. She stated that physical violence is visible, but no one sees when the heart is bleeding. Girls who face violence need counseling for their mental well-being, and this is where ASTHA project can and will support these girls.

Sheepa Hafiza, in her closing remarks stated that ASTHA is such a program on which women and girls who are survivors or at risk of gender based violence, can always rely on, and it will support them to receive the help from the existing multi-sectoral public services.

This project is being implemented by ASK – in consortium with Shushilan, Gana Unnayan Kendra, and Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) as local partners – with technical support from UNFPA Bangladesh, and funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN).