Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a national legal aid and human rights organisation, provides legal and social support to the dis empowered, particularly women, working children and workers. Its goal is to create a society based on equality, social and gender justice and rule of law. It seeks to create an environment for accountability and transparency of governance institutions.
ASK was registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Bangladesh under the Societies Registration Act, XXI in 1986, and with the NGO Affairs Bureau under Foreign Donation Regulation Ordinance, 1978 in 1993. It was accorded special consultative status with UNECOSOC in 1998.
ASK’s strategies for promotion and protection of human rights are carried out by 17 units and one component to create awareness, provide legal and social support, monitor institutional transparency, campaign and advocacy for law and policy reform.
Promoting Community Activism
In partnership with ten partner NGOs (PNGOs) and CBOs, ASK has trained and facilitated the formation of voluntary groups to monitor human rights, prevent their violation and protect victims in 40 unions in ten upazillas. Fifty-two school teams and 60 youth teams have learned to perform human rights theatre.
Legal and Social Support
Lawyers resolve disputes through mediation or litigation in ten legal aid clinics in Dhaka. An outreach programme has extended legal clinics in seven districts (Barisal, Bogra, Chittagong, Hobigonj, Rajshahi, Satkhira and Tangail) in partnership with seven local NGOs. Health and Education Support and Legal Protection is offered to working children at six sites in Dhaka and to domestic child workers at 38 sites.
Accountability of Public Institutions
News clips of legal and human rights violations are compiled from ten national newspapers. Fact finding investigations into incidents of HR violations are carried out by ASK staff and l by 15 local human rights defenders’ forums trained by ASK in 15 districts.
Advocacy for Law and Policy Reform
Research into human rights situation and on impact of laws and policies is disseminated in ASK’s quarterly Bulletins, books and pamphlets. Seven public Interest litigations were filed in coordination with several other human rights organisations; favourable judgments were obtained in three cases and the rest are awaiting hearing. Judgments have been pending in 45 PILs filed since 2000. Remedial steps were taken for extension of stay order, to maintain status quo, for direction for compliance with Court’s orders, issuing legal notices, etc.).
Enhancing Capabilities of Human Rights Defenders
ASK’s courses on legal and human rights aim to enhance capabilities of human rights’ defenders, increase community activism for justice, and encourage interventions to prevent violations and protect survivors.
These core programmes are supported by a consortium of six donors, and specific programmes by one donor.
ASK conducts its programmes outside Dhaka with 20 key partner NGOs and CBOs (Gender & Social Justice, Outreach and Child Rights Programme), 52 Schools (BNAD) and 15 Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF). (For details please refer to Annex II)
ASK is associated with eight national and ten international networks.
ASK is a membership organisation founded by nine individuals (4 women and 5 men, 3 deceased). It currently has 27 general members (17 women and 10 men)
Executive Committee members
9 (7 women and 2 men)
Units of ASK
From its beginning, ASK has effectively been working in the field of monitoring human rights situation in Bangladesh. Considering the importance and requirements of investigation related activities, verified information, data, documents or reports, ASK established the Investigation Unit in May 1994. Since then, the Investigation Unit has been playing a significant role to attain the goal & objectives of ASK through investigation and reporting on human rights situation, especially the violation of human rights (HRV).
ASK’s investigation of HRVs are a very useful source for litigation, advocacy, campaign or any other remedial purpose to protect and promote human rights. Out of monitoring & investigation activities, the Unit is also engaged in community mobilization against any human rights violation. The Unit provides fact-finding training for human rights activists working at grass root level. Besides this, the Unit is also very much responsive and cooperative to any kind of urgent call in any crisis and is prepared to communicate with national and international concern authorities/bodies to initiate expected response against violation/issues related to rights.
- The Investigation Unit is searching for incidents/issues to investigate from scanning the daily newspapers, daily action meetings and other relevant sources. The assigned Investigator(s) (generally a team of two members) visit the scene of occurrence and other places related to the incidents, interview persons concerned to collect verified information and documents. The members of Human Rights defenders forum (HRDF) investigate HRVs that have occurred in the respective area(s) and sends their reports to the Unit.
- Investigative reports are used for remedial follow-up actions by ASK or concern government authorities. The reports are even sometimes submitted to the High Court as per their request.
- Considering (Regardsless instead of Considering?) the frequency and numerous violations of human rights in Bangladesh (which has increased demand for more investigative activities) as well as, the limitation of Investigation Unit to response in all issues, the Unit is also working for community mobilization, i.e. organizing human rights activists under district based Human Rights Defenders Forum and developing their skills, to ensure investigation and community response at local and national level.
- The Unit is regularly writting letters to concerned authorities seeking necessary legal actions against various type of human rights violation.
- The Unit also provides Fact-finding and report writing trainings to other staff members of ASK, as well as staff of other organizations (such as BRAC, NHRC) if/when requested.
The Unit carries out its activities all over the country. At the same time, certain activities like community mobilization and skill development are going on in 18 selected districts. The number is to be extended to 20 districts in southern and western part of Bangladesh within the next five years.
- The Unit staff is conducting investigation on allegation of human rights violation,
- Arranging investigation for members of district base local Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF).
- Organizing events/meeting? for local Human Rights activists under Human Rights Defenders Forum at several districts to monitor and investigate human rights violation in respective areas.
- Conducting capacity building training on fact-finding and reporting for HRDF members and other human rights activists, such as journalists, lawyers, development workers, and others at regional and national level.
- Initiating legal remedy against HRs violations by concern authority, as well as, by ASK.
- Providing emergency support to survivors, if/when necessary.
- Campaigning through press and electronic media, if/when necessary.
- Responding to any emergency situation if necessary.
Currently the Unit has 8 staff members.
This section is under construction.
Publication & Communications
One of the oldest Units of ASK, Publication and Communication Unit (PCU) plays a behind-the-scenes but significant role in ASK’s advocacy efforts to reorient public opinion and encourage human rights activism. The Unit started its journey by publishing “Sanglap”, an issue-based publication, in December 1993.
The Unit works with publishing periodicals, books and pamphlets bearing ASK’s insignia. The focus of such publications is contemporary human rights issues and issues of laws and policy. PCU’s periodicals have emerged as an important resource used by members of the legal profession, law students and human rights activists.
Bulletin is a regular publication of ASK published quarterly in Bangla since 1994. The Bulletin is containing the news and analysis of the latest changes in laws and policies affecting human rights, analysis of judgments and directives from courts in upholding human rights and gender issues.
Every year the PCU publishes various books focusing on human rights and gender issues. Issues of the books range from core human rights to the contemporary national human rights issues. PCU also helps other Units of ASK publishing books and pamphlets.
PCU is often having articles in different national daily newspapers. Apart from analyzing the laws and the human rights situations and issues, these articles raises a voice and express a concern over the violation of women rights and human rights and help raise awareness and form opinion on these issues. This helps AKS reaching the common people and raises awareness and form opinion on contemporary issues.
PCU publishes pamphlets on different legal- and gender issues. These pamphlets present different civil, criminal and personal laws, which are used in everyday life, and is written in a simple language.
Currently the Unit has three staffs and renowned writer Shaheen Akhter has been working as an editor since the beginning of the Unit.
Some major Publications of the Unit are – Manobir Nishongko Mon, Paribarik Ain a Bangladesh er Nari, Jonosharte Mamla, Juddhaparadh, Cikitshai Obohela, RAB- Santrash Nirmul Na Rashter Santrash, Narir 71 o Juddhaporoborti Katthokahini, Ainer Katha etc.
Currently the Unit has three staff members
Legal Advocacy and Policy Reform Unit works to protect fundamental rights of the citizens of Bangladesh through Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The Unit also prepares drafts for enacting new laws and provides policy recommendations for legal reform.
The Unit monitors the domestic application of international instruments and observes implementation of positive judgments given by PILs. The Unit has also been introducing programs to PIL at the district courts in order to protect the rights of the poor and vulnerable sections of the society. The Unit, has also been working to develop capacities of the District Court Lawyers to lodge PILs by using statutory laws.
In the late nineties, ASK realized that it would not be possible to work with and for human rights without bringing changes in to the existing legal procedures, policies and legal structures of Bangladesh. At the same time ASK felt that, lack of accountability of the authorities, who are entitled to ensure human rights of the people through the implementation of existing laws, was another drawback. ASK also realized that, the changes need to be initiated from the higher level of the legal and judicial structures in order to bring positive results for a greater community and PIL could be an effective tool for achieving this goal. During that time Public Interest Litigation was comparatively a new approach for the human rights activists of the country. ASK has been using this approach since 1997. Within a very short period of time, ASKs scope and significance was expanded greatly and the need to establishing a separate Unit to deal with the activities related to PIL was acknowledged.
The Unit was established in 2000 to insure the lead and coordinate of ASK activities which was necessary to bring legal and institutional reforms, to ensure the accountability of GoB and public institutions and to use PIL in establishing people’s fundamental rights and human rights.
- Conducting Research on human rights violations and to address the issues
- Conducting training to develop the capacity of District Court Lawyers to file PIL in District Court on certain issues.
- Filing and assisting with public interest litigations to secure fundamental rights and to ensure accountability of state authorities about their constitutional and legal duties
- Drafting new law and reviewing existing laws and policies to ensure conformity with human rights and preparing recommendations for reform, amendment or repeal as necessary
- Engaging in advocacy with state authorities and collaborating with other national and local NGOs to strengthen law and policy reform initiatives, including to seek compliance with the outcome of public interest litigation
In some cases the Unit files PIL in association with other like-minded national human rights organizations. The Unit currently consists of four regular staffs.
Legal Advocacy and Policy Reform Unit has achieved some significant directions or judgments from the Highcourt through PILs.
Some Major PILs of the Unit
Right to Life
Right to Shelter
- Madaripur Brothel case – Writ Petition No. 3841 of 2013
- Shahidertake Bosti Case, Writ Petition No. 974 of 2010
- Bahistaki Basti case, Writ Petition No. 4456 of 2009
- CNB Bosti case, Writ Petition No. 1167 of 2008
- Korail Bosti Case. Writ Petition No. 9763 of 2008
- Kalshi Bosti Case, Writ Petition No 3535/2004
- Noakhali Char Case, Writ Petition No. 5194/2004
- Intern Doctor’s Strike Case, Writ Petition No. 4319 of 2010
- Safe Blood Transfusion Case, Writ Petition No. 1360 of 2010
- Medical Negligence (Private Clinics) Case, Writ Petition No. 624/2006
- Rana Plaza Collapse Writ Petition No. 4390 of 2013
- Tazrin Fire Case – Writ Petition No.15693 of 2012
- Ship Breaking Yard Case, Writ Petition No. 7528 of 2009
- Migrant Worker Case, Writ Petition No. 6409 of 2008
- KTS Garments Case, Writ Petition No. 2019/2006
- Spectrum Garments Case, Writ PetitionNo.3566/2005
- Bidi Factory Case, Writ Petition No. 1234/2004
Rights of the Minorities
- Rights of the Minorities – Writ Petition No. 3561 of 2013
- CHT Case, Writ Petition No. 2813 of 2009.
- Garo Eviction case, Writ Petition No. 5412/2007
- Freedom of Expression, Non-discrimination, Equal Protection of Law -Ahmadiya Muslim Jamat Case, Writ Petition No. 7031/2004
Rights of the Persons with Disabilities
Rights of the Prisoners
- Juvenile Prisoners’ case, Writ Petition No. 6373/2007.
- Under Trial Prisoners’ Case, Writ Petition No. 8216/2005
- Lunatic Prisoners’ Case, Writ Petition No- 4269/2005
- Prisoners’ Case, Writ Petition No. 1987/2005
Rights of the Women and Children
- Two finger test case, Writ Petition No. 10663 of 2013
- High Court Judgment on Extra-Judicial Penalties in the Name of ‘Fatwa’, WRIT PETITION NO. 5684,
- Corporal Punishment in the Educational Institutions WRIT PETITION NO. 5684, 2010
- Equality before law- Scholar Home case Writ Petition No. 1257 of 2013
- Equal Opportunity of Employment – BCS Case, Writ Petition No. 2932 of 2010
- Suhrawardi Udyan case, Writ Petition No. 1859/2008
- Corporate Accountability, State Responsibility and Rights to Natural Resources – NIKO Case, Writ Petition No- 6911/2005
- Arbitrary Arrest and Detention- Mass Arrest Case, Writ Petition No. 2192/2004
- Accountability and Transparency – G.K. Project Case, Writ Petition No. 5495/2004
From the beginning of its endeavor in December 2008, Media & International Advocacy Unit has been working to promote and uphold the principles of human rights using the media and also national, regional and global human rights mechanisms.
ASK has always believed media as an important tool for advocacy on Law and policy reform. The Media and International Advocacy unit (MIA) is the focal point for ASK’s contacts with the national and international media.
ASK considers the media not only to be a medium of promotion but also a strong associates of the human rights movement. ASK does that through different means –
- Issuing Press Statement– ASK is always vocal in protesting different human rights violations within the country as well as outside the country. MIA Unit issues press statement or reaction on the incident of HRVs to condemn, protest as well as to draw attention of the relevant authority for taking immediate legal actions against the perpetrators.
- Writing Editorials– When a short statement is not enough to address a specific issue, ASK writes editorials with legal and human rights analysis which helps to create public opinion on that issue.
- Organizing Press Conferences – MIA unit also organizes press conferences to sensitize and mobilize mass people, civil society, human rights defenders and relevant authority on violations of human rights.
- Organizing Issue based Workshop with the Journalists– The Unit organizes workshop on a human rights issue which needs to bring in the attention of the journalists, so that it develops a sense of understanding among them from human rights perspective which will ultimately reflect in their reporting on that issue.
DIGITAL CAMPAIGN THROUGH ASK OFFICIAL WEBSITE AND E-NEWSLETTER
- Maintaining ASK Website: MIA Unit is also responsible for maintaining ASK’s official website regularly. Originally created in 2008, Media and International Advocacy has envisioned using this medium to inform, share information, create awareness, advocate on specific issues and inspire action. It is now active in disseminating information on human rights in Bangladesh and ASK’s work.
- Preparing and Disseminating E-newsletter– The Unit prepares 12 E-newsletters per year and disseminates those e-newsletters among its networks.
ASK holds the UN ECOSOC Consultative status since 1998 and is an active member of several regional and international organizations. A significant proportion of its work involves liaising with ASK’s international counterparts in the NGO sector and also interacting with regional and global human rights mechanisms.
- This function entails providing updates of the human rights situation in Bangladesh, submitting reports in the regional and UN human rights mechanisms, sending information or communication to the relevant UN human rights bodies, responding to the violations of human rights in other parts of the world by issuing urgent appeals, petitions and solidarity letters or supporting others initiatives on these cases.
- The unit has been preparing a critical assessment of the performance of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Bangladesh in the protection and promotion of human rights annually.
- Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
- End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT)
- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)
- International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW)
- Migrants’ Forum in Asia (MFA)
- South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR)
- South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR)
- Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)
- We Can End Violence against Women
Mediation and Rapid Response Unit provides legal services to the vulnerable and marginalized people, in particular women, children and workers, as well as victims of violence by state agencies. The Unit was started in 2002 and has been providing legal advice, mediation and litigation and supplementary support services, such as emergency temporary shelter and psychosocial help. The Unit has also responded to incident of violence by taking steps to rescue victims and also by sending urgent communications to the concerned authorities to take prompt actions for redress.
This unit provides legal services through legal advice, mediation and rapid response.
- Legal Advice
ASK can provide free legal advice to any person who approaches to ASK, either in person at AKSs office or in legal clinics located across Dhaka city, or by phone or email. If the person falls within the criteria for receiving legal representation, ASK proceeds to provide further support, and alternatively advises that a lawyer can be engaged by the persons concerned. ASK fieldworkers accompany clients to police stations, the Marriage Register’s (Kazi’s) offices, the medical centers and the courts whenever needed.
ASK also intervenes in certain cases on its own based on information published in the newspapers or received any news from any other institutions.
ASK emphasizes on dispute resolution prior to litigation through mediation process in all compoundable complaints. Compoundable complains could be a non-payment of dower-money, maintenance, child maintenance and wages. Child custody, desertion by husband, divorce, polygamy, mal adjustment between husband and wife etc. are also the subject of mediation.
After registering the client’s complaint the unit notifies the other parties in writing on the complaint and calls for mediation. When the unit is receiving a response, it arranges one or more mediation hearings at which the staff lawyer, the complainant and the opposite party discuss the dispute. If no response is received to the written notice, the ASK field worker will make a personal visit to the other party to explain the matter and request the party to take part in the mediation.
If and when a settlement is reached, ASK continues to liaise with the client for six months to monitor and follow up on the settlement.
- Rapid Response
In emergency cases ASK’s Rapid Response mechanism is enable to respond to human rights violation cases reported in the dailies or referred by individuals and organizations through interventions with the help of concerned authorities.
Currently Mediation and Rapid Response Unit has 19 staff members consisting of 12 lawyers, 6 field workers and 1 Unit Assistant.
This unit has initiated an internship program in 2010. Under this program students from different universities of Bangladesh & abroad can join with the activities of ASK as an Intern. From 2012 another internship program has also been active and was initiated by this unit. In this program one law student from any University of Bangladesh can work as an intern for a period of two months.
ASK provides legal service at its main office in Lalmatia or in legal clinics located across Dhaka City.
Address of 9 legal clinics:
237 West Goran, Dhaka
Time: Every Sunday 2:00 to 5:00pm
2. Johnson Road
54, Johnson Road, Dhaka
Time: Every Monday 2:00 to 5:00pm
House: 2, Road: 2, Ghudaraghat, Mirpur: 1, Block: A, Dhaka
Time: Every Tuesday 2:00 to 5:00pm
Charch of Bangladesh Office, Near by Keraniganj Model Thana, Dhaka
Time: Every Tuesday 2:00 to 5:00pm
College Road, Kamranghirchar, Dhaka
Time: Every Wednesday 2:00 to 5:00pm
Pusti Centre, 96 Ghar, Wasa Road, Jatrabari, Dhaka
Time: Every Monday 2:00 to 5:00pm
70/A, Shantibagh, Dhaka
Time: Every Wednesday 2:00 to 5:00pm
BRAC office, Jaynabari, Hemayetpur
Time: Every Sunday 9:00am to 1:00pm
D- 28/1, Talbagh Central Hospital (Ground Floor)
Savar Thana Stand, Dhaka
Tme: Every Sunday, 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm
N.B: This Unit started a joint support program with Victim Support Centre from February 2009 and with Department of Women and Children Affairs shelter home of Gazipur from May 2012.
ASK has been providing legal assistance to victims of rights violation through mediation and legal assistance since the beginning of its journey. In the beginning, Legal Aid Unit was responsible for providing these services. Considering the number of complaints and cases as well as the necessity of specialized lawyers for these two tasks, two separate units i.e. Mediation and Rapid Response Unit and Litigation Unit, have been established in 2003, so that issues of legal assistance could be addressed timely and effectively.
At present, Litigation Unit is one of the most important units of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) that works to ensure justice and also to protect human rights of the common people.
The Unit provides free legal aid by mainly conducting cases in the court and other ways such as advocacy, awareness building and pursuance to the concerned authority for enabling people to have access to justice.
Litigation Unit provides legal assistance in district court of Dhaka. Unit lawyers also provide legal assistance outside of Dhaka in severe criminal cases wherever necessary.
- In cases amenable to mediation, where no settlement is attainable and the mediation fails, ASK can provide legal representation to a client wanting to seek a remedy through litigation in court.
- In cases that cannot be mediated, for example complaints of violence, including rape, murder, acid attack, and cases involving infringement of fundamental rights, the Unit may provide legal advice and take legal actions for remedies through court procedure.
- Litigation Unit usually receives cases on the violation of human rights and family matters. Staff lawyers and panel lawyers conduct these cases.
- Staff lawyers conduct cases in district court of Dhaka and all district court of Bangladesh wherever necessary.
- This Unit also provides legal aid through litigation in criminal matters.
- Lawyers refer victims to shelter home if necessary. They release victims from safe custody when it is safe and help them to go back to their home.
The lawyers conduct cases of all family matters i.e. violence against women in case of non-payment of dower money, maintenance, child maintenance, child custody, divorce, restitution of conjugal rights. The Unit also provides legal aid in criminal matters such as stalking, rape, acid throwing, murder, dowry, abduction, abetment to suicide etc.
Currently the Unit has 11 staff members.
Most of the legal aid organizations in the country are working in Dhaka and a mass of people are living in the rural areas. These people still have very little knowledge on their rights in case of violations. They also lack knowledge on where and how they can get help and remedy. Many cases of human rights violations, family and gender based violence and other crimes remains outside the justice system, as the purview of the justice system and the situation is often acute in rural areas. As an effort to extend Legal aid services to the rural areas where needs of legal assistance are even more acute, especially for women, the Outreach Unit of ASK has been established in 1998.
The Unit’s main function is to assist other NGOs to replicate ASK’s legal aid system. The Unit works to assist a PNGO in establishing, managing and operating a legal aid clinic, maintaining liaison with a Panel of Lawyers, practicing in the District Court, and providing legal representation to clients.
The PNGOs runs legal aid clinics with a trained paralegal staff where the aggrieved person can file a complaint. Depending on the content of the complaint, necessary steps are taken towards a settlement in the matter. A settlement is often reached by mediation. If not, the next step is filing a court case and if necessary conducting the proceeding free of cost, providing counseling to the clients and follow up the progress.
Activities of the Outreach Unit are committed to focusing on women because women are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuse. The program interventions are aimed to open up women’s access to justice. Accordingly, most of the beneficiaries of the activities either as client seeking legal aid, or as a community group member, are women.
At present the Unit is carrying out legal aid program in partnership with local NGOs outside Dhaka in seven districts namely, Chittagong, Barisal, Habigonj, Stakhira, Rajshahi, Tangail and Bogra.
- Setting up legal aid clinics and providing legal assistance: By now the Unit has set up 10 legal aid clinics in 7 districts. The paralegals in the partner organizations run the clinics under direct supervision of the Outreach Unit staff members.
- Rapid Response to HRVs: Using the network outside Dhaka, the Unit responds to incidents of human rights violations. The procedure is asking/requesting either by phone, fax, or sending a letter to the respective police station, and public officials to take the reported case into active consideration.
- Awareness raising workshop with community group members: The Unit organizes and conducts workshops on rights, human rights, gender, family laws and on ASKs legal aid program. The workshops also attend the issues about combating violence against women. The workshops are held in community level where group members of PNGOs take part.
- Organizing Client Workshops: The Unit organizes and conducts client workshops in order to make clients aware of the process and current status of the Salish and the case and to enhance the mental strength within the clients.
- Meeting with Panel Lawyers: There are altogether 77 panel lawyers in the working districts for conducting court cases. Meetings are organized with panel lawyers and discussions are held on various relevant issues such as progress on court cases, client dealings from human rights perspective, and human rights issues and the role of lawyers etc.
- Workshop and dialogue with Judges, Govt. officials, Police officials, Lawyers, Journalists, Local government representatives and NGO representatives: The workshops and dialogues are organized in order to find various partners known about the legal aid activities in the respective district and get new allies for assisting the victims of HRVs.
Currently the Unit has 6 staff members
ASK’s emergency support system includes a secure home for children and women survivors during the interim period of legal aid services. Some women and children are unable to go back to their families or communities due to fear of social stigma or threats, and require long term support for rehabilitation. In these cases they are referred to relevant government and NGO support services.
Clients at ASK’s Halfway Homes receive support for shelter, medical care and counseling as well as orientation on family laws, women’s rights, violence against women. The Home also provides basic literacy, vocational training, recreational facilities and support in identifying and pursuing employment opportunities.
The Mediation and Litigation Units provide legal support. Clients can usually stay in the Halfway Home for 10-15 days. During this time ASK arranges long-term shelter for clients and/or refers them to other partner organizations for further support and follow-up. If clients cannot be referred to other organizations for long-term shelter, their stay can be extended at ASK up to six months to one year.
Currently the Home can give shelter to 15 women and children. For every client, a General Diary has to be filled in Mohammadpur Thana before giving the shelter.
WORKING AREA AND BENEFICIARIES
Emergency Support System provides support all over the country but the Halfway Home is located in Dhaka and beneficiaries are only women and children.
Support Service and Halfway Home has four staff members in their Unit.
ASK has been running its Halfway Home in a rented 3 storied building. Five staffs (Counselor, Superintendent, Metron, Aya and Cook) are working 24 hours at the Home.
This section is under construction.
ASK’s primary strategy is to create awareness and mobilize public attention and action on a range of legal and human rights issues. ASK seeks to promote a culture of tolerance for political and cultural diversity, and to demand that governance be guided by social justice and human rights in the community as well as by the State.
The Human Rights Awareness (HRA) Unit uses “action theatre” (popular theatre) to disseminate information and sensitize create awareness at school students and young cultural activists on the topics human rights and gender equality. By doing so the young people can independently promote human rights and prevent abuse of human rights in their area. School and college students and local cultural activists are trained in theatre methodology. Their public performances is supposed to lead to discussions on human rights issues.
The Unit began their activities in 1998. Back then the name of the unit was “Popular Theatre” The name changed to its current Human Rights Awareness (HRA) Unit in 2007.
HRA Unit is working in Gaibandha, Joypurhat, Sirajgonj, Naogaon, Pabna, Kuistia, Jhenaidha, Tangail, Gazipur, Mymensing, Netrokona, Kishoregonj and Dhaka. The Unit only works in Sadar upazila of these districts.
- Sixty voluntary groups known as Manobadhikar Nattya Parishads (MNPs) have been formed and trained by the HRA Unit. The training has covered human rights, gender issues and theatre skills. These MNPs organizes community level action theatres on specific local incidents of human rights violations in order to facilitate local action and response. The MNPs carry on the greater awareness raising initiatives on Human Rigths, Gender and secularism through performing issue based drama, celebrating significant days, organizing theatre festivals, protest rallies, public discussion etc. The activities of MNPs are coordinated and monitored through monthly union and upazila level meeting and a quarterly meeting of MNP central committee. ASK representatives provide necessary suggestions and guidance to the MNPs through these meetings. A national theatre festival is held in Dhaka annually, at which MNPs perform dramas about human rights.
- 52 school theatre groups known as Biddalaya Nattya Dals (BNADs) are formed in 52 secondary schools with 25 to 30 students from class 7 to 9 in 13 districts of Bangladesh including Dhaka. The members of the groups perform dramas, publish wall magazines, and participate in debates and cultural competition. The groups commemorate days of national and international significance, attend workshops and study circles in schools. One Guide Teacher (GT) is selected by the Headmaster in each school to supervise the work of the BNAD along with a Theatre Activists (TA) from ASK. The Head Teacher is the chief advisor of the group.
- The students of theatre departments from 2 public universities have trained their human rights skills through a TOT course and are offered short term internship with ASK in order to conduct 5 to 10 workshops for BNADs in a year. The scope is to develop the quality of the dramas on human rights and gender issues.
- Each year a national wall magazine festival is arranged in collaboration with Bangladesh Deyal Patrika Parishad (Bangladesh Wall Magazine Council) to encourage creative talent among the youth. The magazines focus on local culture and traditions, history and liberation war etc.
At present the unit has 10 staff members.
The Gender and Social Justice Program (GSJP) is focusing on mobilizing and developing community activism to protect rights of community people and on raising awareness of gender and social justice issues. The program was established in 1996. The program aims to expand and strengthen ASK’s activities at grass root level and includes both men and women in this work.
GSJP works through partnerships.
At present, the program is being implemented in ten upazillas of ten districts with logistic support from our local Partner Non-Government Organizations (PNGOs). The involved districts are: Naogaon, Gaibandha, Jhenaidha, Kushtia, Joypurhat, Pabna, Mymensingh, Sirajganj, kishoreganj and Netrokona.
The focus of GSJP work is gender and social justice, human rights, women’s rights, CEDAW, Social Safety Net Mechanism, UP Standing Committee, Right to Informations, Government’s free Legal Aid Fund, district based Human Rights Reporting etc.
- GSJP facilitates the formation of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and supports them with training, coordination of meetings and referrals, through the Manobadhikar Sangrakkhan Parishads (Human Rights Protection Committees) and Manobadhikar Nari Samaj (MNS) (Human Rights Women’s Groups). The two organizations are monitoring the local human rights situation and assist victims of HRVs to seek redress. MNS also monitors and participates in the local shalish (traditional dispute resolution) process in order to ensure compliance with legal standards, and to encourage women’s involvement.
- GSJP starts and supports networks of district level lawyers comprising Manobadhikar Ainjibi Parishads (Human Rights Lawyers Groups) who provide free legal aid and services to the disenfranchised.
- GSJP provides training for the staff in the:
- PNGOs: The training can consist of Human Rights & Rights Based Approach, Gender Relations Analysis, Advocacy, Good Governance and Organizational Development)
- CBOs: As for example training on legal and human rights, gender relations analysis leadership and organizational development)
- Lawyer’s Groups: Training on gender relations analysis, human rights protection mechanisms and the role of lawyers to protect and promote human rights.
- GSJP organizes workshops and study circles on different legal and human rights issues as well as existing national and international protection mechanisms for CBOs and lawyers’ groups. Finally GSJP organizes workshops and study groups for the Government Legal Aid Committee, its Panel lawyers and legal aid applicants.
- GSJP assists CBOs in monitoring and documenting human rights violations and seeking redress, and
- GSJP assists CBOs and Lawyers’ groups with organizing meetings and other events.
At present the GSJP has 9 staff members
Partner Organizations (PNGOs)
|Mukti Nari- O-Shishu unnayan Sangstha||Kushtia|
|Sirajgonj Uttaran Mahila Sangstha(SUMS)||Sirajgonj|
|Sabalambi Unnayan Samity(SUS)||Netrokona|
|Gana Unnayan Kendra(GUK)||Gaibandha|
|Peoples Oriented Program and Implementation (POPI)||Kishoregonj|
|Ancholic Polli Unnayan Sangstha (APUS)||Naogaon|
|Social Association for Rural Advancement (SARA)||Mymensing|
|National Development Council (NDC)||Joypurhat|
|Mohila Sanghati Parishad (MSP)||Rajshahi|
|Sabalambi Unnayan Samity(SUS)||Sunamgonj|
This section is under construction.
While concerned to eliminate child labour in the long run, ASK’s Child Rights Unit accepts the reality that, for the time being, children living in poverty in Bangladesh have no alternative but to work in order to support themselves and their families. Accordingly, CRU focuses its efforts on:
- Advocacy and monitoring of the child rights situation in Bangladesh. The Unit serves as the Secretariat for 31 child rights organizations in Bangladesh, which are responsible for the shadow report and UPR Report (Universal Periodic Review) that is periodically submitted to the Convention of the Rights of the child (CRU) Committee of the UN and OHCHR (Official of the High Commission for the Human Rights), on the state of child rights in Bangladesh relative to Bangladesh’ commitment under the CRU.
- Enabling working children and children at risk of being placed in employment by their household, to acquire the education and skills they need to ultimately move into more rewarding and remunerative jobs, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty-child labour-poverty in which they are trapped.
CRU follows a multi-dimensional approach to providing education. The approach combines non-formal education methodology, with a variety of other interventions that are designed to help children to acquire a buoyant sense of their own capability and future possibilities; re-orient parental attitudes so as to transform child-rearing patterns from providing negative reinforcement to providing positive encouragement; and bring about a significant change in the perspectives of both the community and the government regarding child rights and their own responsibilities for actualizing such rights. Consequently, in addition to providing non-formal primary school education (up to class 5) and vocational training trough community-based “drop-in” centers, “learning centers” and “socialization centers”, CRU offers a series of intensive training workshop to change social perspectives among not only children, but parents, employers (using child labour), middle class school children whose homes employ child domestic workers, community leaders, and government official.
The Administration Unit (ADMIN) provides logistical support for the smooth running of the organization and meets all legal and others requirements of the Government and ASK’S Executive Committee. It looks after all infrastructural and personnel management.
The Accounts and Finance (A&F) Unit managers ASK’S finance and prepares accounts. It manages pay roll and other funds for implementation of programs, purchase of services, equipment, supplies and insurance. It also report to donors, NGOAB, DC Office and any other reports relating to accounts and finance.
Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation Unit prepares project proposal, regularly monitors and evaluates implementation of programme, liaises with donors, prepares report for GoB, donors, ASK Executive Committee, ASK management and others, providing logistics support to evaluation exercises. It develops formats for monitoring, supervision and maintains an MIS system.