The launch of the Bangladesh We Can Campaign took place on September 18th, 2004 in the northern district of Dinajpur and ended on September 25th, 2004 in the southern port city of Chittagong.
In between Dinajpur and Chittagong, launch events were held in Gaibandha, Pabna Sirajgonj, Bagerhat and Barisal. These launches were all a little bit different and included colorful rallies, horse carts and rickshaws vans and mass gatherings of different types. Also included in these launches were various discussions and cultural events. The We Can alliance members worked tirelessly to organize presentations, seminars, workshops, marches, and press conferences to complement their launch activities.
Messages were widely disseminated through the mass media, advertisements on the local cable channels and through innovative methods like mural paintings, posters, booklets, leaflets, flip charts and illustrated panels on the sides of rickshaws- which are highly visible on roads.
Thousands of women and men – members of grassroots organizations involved in rural outreach programs, students from schools and colleges, people from labor organizations and ordinary people living within the communities who were keen to challenge and change behavior on violence against women – attended the launches.
In Bangladesh, domestic violence is a historic and socio-cultural reality. It is estimated that there are 3.7 million “missing” women in the Bangladesh – which is about 7% of the population. The country has one of the highest rates of adolescent motherhood; 1 in 3 teenage girls in Bangladesh is a mother.
The aim of launching the Campaign in districts beyond than Dhaka, was so the strength of partners could be used to make a “big splash in smaller places” involving locally and nationally well-known people. These launches had national media coverage through the invitation to national journalists, and as the events were local there was major coverage in local papers which have a wide outreach among the Campaign’s target groups.
- A study by ICDDRB in 2001 indicated that 60% of women experienced violence and concluded that high levels of domestic violence remains a major health problem in Bangladesh
- One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC), a Bangladesh-based NGO that supports women victims of violence, reveals that almost 70% of sexual abuse suffered by women occurs within their own homes.
- WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2005), less than 1% of physically abused women report the matter.
- An estimated 200 women are murdered each year in Bangladesh when their families cannot pay their dowry, says Oxfam Australia.