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Speaking out against violence and harassment

Graphic: In Nepal, the NHRC has launched a campaign to end violence against women

The National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, like many other NHRIs in the region, has spoken strongly against sexual violence and harassment.


The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh has spoken strongly against those responsible for sexual assaults involving women at Dhaka University during Pahela Baishakh celebration.

On 14 April 2015, several gangs of young men were responsible for molesting at least 20 women in a public area of the university during the Bangla New Year celebration.

Professor Mizanur Rahman blamed the incident on religious fanaticism and the patriarchal nature of the society, the Daily Star reported.

"Those who seek advantage by misinterpreting religion, especially militants and religious fanatics, can't tolerate women's presence or participation out in public," Professor Rahman told a news conference.

He also described as "regretful" the alleged police inaction at the time of the assaults and called on mayoral candidates for Dhaka to stand up to violence against women.

"We want proper promises from them to make Dhaka free of sexual harassment if they are voted to office," Professor Rahman said.

In March 2015, APF member institutions committed to make promoting and protecting the rights of women a core priority over the next five years.

Tackling sexual harassment and violence against women and girls is a central part of this work, as set out in the Amman Declaration and the APF Regional Action on Plan on the Human Rights of Women and Girls.

"At the base of it all, we need to change prevailing attitudes," Samoa's Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma said.

"The community needs to accept that violence against women and girls, in the home or wherever it arises in society, cannot be tolerated," he said.

Examples of innovative programs undertaken by or involving APF members include:

  • In Australia, the Know the Line campaign is supporting employers and employees address unwelcome sexual behaviour at work.
  • In the Maldives, the Dhoadhi campaign is building awareness among women, men and state officials about the new Domestic Violence Act
  • In Bangladesh, the Brave Men campaign is encouraging boys and young men to stand up to violence against women
  • In Nepal, a solidarity campaign and petition was initiated, in partnership with Human Rights Film Focus, to end violence against women
  • In New Zealand, the Bring Back Kate campaign is tackling violence against women and children.

The APF has also just completed its first blended learning course of the rights of women and girls, which included a focus on how national human rights institutions can use their complaint handling, advisory and education functions to counter sexual harassment and violence against women.

Date: 22 April 2015


Image credits

  1. In Nepal, the NHRC has launched a campaign to end violence against women - Janak Bhatta, National Human Rights Commission of Nepal