In support of the international campaign ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, Community Partners International (CPI) is engaging in events and activities with partners and communities in Myanmar and in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until December 10 (Human Rights Day). During these 16 Days of Activism, CPI is working closely with communities to raise awareness and understanding of sexual and gender-based violence, promote rights and protections, and provide information about care and support needs and options for survivors.
Sexual and gender-based violence, and violence against women and girls in particular, is a significant, though often hidden, problem in Myanmar and among refugees from Myanmar sheltering in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Cultural norms, taboos and stigma prevent women and girls from accessing adequate protection and rights, makes it difficult for communities to acknowledge, understand and address violence, and hampers access to urgently needed care and support for survivors of violence.
In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, CPI is organizing activities with refugee communities in three camps - Camps 1E and 17 of the Kutupalong Site, Camp 14 (Hakimpara) and Camp 15 (Jamtoli). During these 16 days, CPI’s activities are particularly focused on adolescent girls and boys - a key demographic in efforts to to promote awareness and influence behavior change around sexual and gender-based violence.
CPI launched activities on November 25, 2018, in Cox’s Bazar with CPI’s Rohingya Community Health Volunteers joining a community parade led by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UN Women. The parade moved through the camp to raise awareness about ending violence against women and girls.
Upcoming activities in November include a ‘Paint Your Dreams’ event in which adolescent girls will paint pictures about their ambitions and present them to their parents to promote education and well-being for girls. Adolescent boys will participate in an initiative to make orange wristbands (the color of the 16 Days of Activism campaign) which they will distribute to community members to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.
Several further activities are planned for December in Cox’s Bazar, including games, art and speech competitions for adolescent girls and boys that address issues around gender based violence, a talk for adolescent boys and men focusing on domestic and intimate partner violence, and household visits by CPI’s network of GBV volunteers to show short films about domestic and sexual violence and provide information on available services in camps for survivors.
In Myanmar, CPI helped organize the launch of the 16 Days of Activism in Hpa-An, Kayin State, on November 25, 2018, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Women and Girls First Initiative, and in cooperation with other international non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and women’s organizations. The launch included a formal event with a panel discussion on the response to sexual and gender-based violence in Myanmar. The panel featured four members who provided the health, psycho-social, policing and legal perspectives on sexual and gender-based violence - Dr. Kyaw Wai Aung from UNFPA, Dr. Aye Myat Myat Zaw from CPI, Deputy Police Commander Tun Tun Oo and U Maung Shwe from the Mawlamyine Justice Center.
Around 500 people attended the event, including representatives from the Kayin State Department of Public Health, Department of Social Welfare, local police and Legal Department, young people, local community members, ethnic, community-based and civil society organizations and international organizations. CPI and other organizations set up booths outside the venue to provide information and engage those attending with key issues around sexual and gender-based violence.
As part of ongoing activities around the 16 Days of Activism in Kayin State, CPI will be joining a World AIDS Day event on December 1, and a parade on December 8 in Hpa-An.