Invest for Indigenous Girls Power Project

Posted December 28, 2015 from Bangladesh

“Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman” – a quotation by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr is the inspiring theme of generating this project. Despite the government's pledge to adopt a zero tolerance for abduction, torture, rape, sexual, violence against indigenous women and children, there has not been significant progress in the ground realities. Indigenous women and girls, particularly, are vulnerable because of prejudice in the administration. According to Bangladesh Indigenous Women's Network, violence against indigenous women and children increased twofold between 2013, 2014 and 2015. This includes rape, abduction and murder. The recent plight of a Garo woman having to go from one police station to another to file her case of being gang-raped is an example of how state agencies show bias in the way they treat victims from these communities. The unresolved case of Kalpana Chakma who was abducted 19 years ago from the CHT region is an indication of how far back this discrimination can be traced to. This torture case has been widely published in national dailies and has drawn attention to the international community. BCHRD issued immediately an urgent appeal for international action. There are many other examples of torture cases against adibashis. In Bangladesh adibashies, considered as tribal people and followers of their own indegenious religion and believes, are the most vulnerable group. They are poor, illiterate and remanied isolated within their own caste and community. The local power people like matbors/political influentials inflict torture and violence upon them to grasp their lands & property. Gradually they are losing their adibashi identity.

After torture by the police influenced by this power people, they lost not only their land and property but also deprived from legal justice due to ignorance and poverty. As a consequences of torture, violence and organized violence, they suffered from physical, mental, social, legal and economic squeal. Victims of torture, rape, sexual violence, domestic violence and organized violence are traumaized and many develops long term complications with nightmare, flashback, depression, guilty feelings, isolation and even severe complications like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and or suicidal tendencies. In Bangladesh the scope for legal education, legal aid, treatment of mental health in general is very limited and restricted and available only in Dhaka and other major cities. Thus domestic violence, torture victims, and adibashies in particular are left without legal security, treatment, rehabilitation, redress and compensation. They risk to become socially handicapped for the rest of their life’s or even die without treatment. This project will address the minority and marginalized population and provide legal services, treatment & rehabilitation support with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, physiotherapists, mental health experts (psychologist, counsellors, psychiatrits) and lawyers.

Bangaldesh is highly populated country with a poor human rights situation and respect. Torture and organized violence are endemic among the police and other special forces[1]. Although torture in any form is prohibited in the national constitution however police and other state agencies routinely practiced torture.Bangaldesh ratified the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in 1998 with reservation of ‘Article 14’ on compension, however, today police and and act of torture is not considered as a criminal act in its domestic law. Thus access to compensation and justice is very limited or even impossible. Moreever various domestic laws ensure that perpetrators will enjoy impunity.

Specific problems to be addressed by the action: The action will address the following specific problems of the minority and marginalized girls and young women who have been tortured in Bangladesh:

Immediate physical consequences of torture and organized violence – due to direct injuries or indirect consequences like various diseases such as uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, hypertension; Long-term or acute mental consequences of torture and organized violence; Social and cultural consequences of torture and organized violence like stigma, joblessness; Lack of access to justice and compensation against crimes of torture; Lack of social empowerment and awareness against torture and organized violence.

Brief description of the target groups and final beneficiaries: Human rights situation reports on Bangladesh[2] clearly document that domestic violence, torture and organized violence is a part of life and often inflicted by law enforcing agencies regardless of religion, gender and age. Neverthless, the prevalence of torture are more common among minorities and disadvantaged people like the Adibashi. Among them women and children are the victims of secondary traumatization due to their vulnerability. The action will provide service delivery as defined by Article 1of the Convention Against Torture (CAT). It is expected that significant number of women victims will participate. In most cases their family members also affected, so they may be treated in conjunction with the victims. In addition through the stepwise training program among adibashi women a cadre of human rights defender care provider level will be formed. Relevance of the proposal to the needs and constraints in general of the target country(ies) or region(s) and to the target groups/final beneficiary groups in particular: Domestic Violence, Violence

Torture by the state agencies and in domestic and social life is very common in Bangaldesh. The political party in power uses torture as a weapon to suppress the political opposition. State law enforcing agencies are specially trained to inflict torture as a method to extract a confession during interrogation in custody. In addition extrajudicial killings in the name of cross encounter are common and a recent trend of human rights violations[3].

In Bangladesh around 50 specific adibashis communities living scattered in 32 districts of Bangladesh. Among the adibashis the Shaotal group ( with an estimated population of 2,02,744) live in Rajshahi division, The Garo group (population 1,02,000 living in greater Mymensingh district are mostly living in the plains. Among others, living in hilly areas - Chittagong Hill Tracts and Sylhet, the Chakma, Rakhain, Tripura, Monipuri, Marma are the well known groups[4]. Torture and organized violence against Adibashi groups, as they are scattered and live in different areas, are common. The purpose of inflicting violence on these communities are often related to overtake their inherited land and property. Most of the adibashis are poor, illiterate and live isolated within their own community. Violence against adibashis takes different forms and include looting & burning of houses, forcefully grasping lands and organized rape of adibashi women by the local powerful people often supported by local law enforcing agencies specially police and also from the ruling political parties. In most cases the police denied to take FIR[5] on the incidences. In a number of instances local adibashi leaders have been killed. As a result of torture and organized violence the adibashi people and their family members suffer from severe physical, psychological, social and legal consequences. The state – as a duty holder to ensure the rights of the citizens – take no initiative to ensure their treatment and rehabilitation; as a result the adibashi victims remained unattended throughout their whole life and may become a liability for their communities and the society at large.

Treatment in state run hospitals are limited due to absence of expertise and willing to accept patients tortured by law enforcement agencies. Furthermore in district and upozilla hospitals have no provision for mental health specialists. The numbers of mental health experts in Bangladesh are countable and mostly concentrated in medical college hospitals and big cities. The Ministry of Health has not developed and adopted mental health policy for the country. Victims of torture and organized violence need a multi-care treatment support with special attention to mental health. In Bangladesh, BRCT has been providing such heath care service for a number of years targeting victims and their families including adibashis.

Until today, the sufferings of this adibashi people has been ignored and remained unattended. However, there is no available specific data on their mental status. Accordingly, this project will address this issue of determining their mental state and with special emphasis on women and children.

There is no scope for victims to receive compensation due to the deplorable conditions with poor respect for human rights in all spheres of the state. Whereas the government is not addressing this issues and impunity for perpetrators within domestic law prevails. Bangladesh has also inserted a reservation of Article 14 of UN CAT on compensation to the victims. Bangladesh has not established independent complaining centres like national human rights commission or ombudsman.

Relevance of the proposal to the priorities and requirements presented in the Guidelines.

The proposal is focused on one of five specific EIDHR objectives “Supporting actions on human-rights and democracy ........torture, and children and armed conflict”[6] and Country Specific Objectives and Priority Issues “Legal Rehabilitation of torture and violence victims”.

General Objectives: To treat and rehabilitate indigenous women from the victims of torture, rape, sexual violence and organize violence of adibashi communities in Bangladesh. BCHRD as a leading organization with local network of partner organizations in the community will implement the rehabilitation services. In addition, as mandatory of the overall budget has been allocated to capacity building activities, treatment, rehabilitation, access to political participation, institutional strengthening to be carried out by internationally well reputed rehabilitation expert organization and also a long-term global partner of BCHRD.

Description of the action and its effectiveness

Description of the overall objective of the action, outputs and expected results:

The overall objective of the action is to develop a strategy for the rehabilitation of adibashi women victims of torture, rape, sexual violence and organized violence in Bangladesh. The specific outputs and results of action are:

Treatment and rehabilitation of indigenous women victims of torture, rape, sexual violence and organized violence coming from adibashi communities in Bangladesh. The output will be rehabilitation of 300 victims and their families with special emphasis on women victims – at least to the point where there are integrated in their own communities to a level of functioning before torture. This will be done through a community based rehabilitation program.

Determination of socio-economic status of adibashi women in Bangladesh. A base line study will be conducted. The output should be a socio-economic study on adibashi’s in different districts and based upon the economic study a policy paper addressing the needs of the adibashis will be developed for economic empowerment of adivashi women. Creating a national and international network among NGOs/INGOs for early intervention on any torture, rape, sexual violence, organized violence act committed against adibashi people. A hotline system will act as an early warning system within this network.

There will be developed an Alliance/Network against Torture, Rape, Sexual Violence and Organized Violence against indigenous women to create a national and international network among NGOs/INGOs for early intervention. The result should be prevent torture act immediately within 24 hours of arrest/incidence and international reporting within 48 hours through local human rights body with adibashi leadership as local resource human rights centre, and provide legal support to victims within shortest period of arrest/incidence.

Creating a group of women human rights care providers in selected communities for providing basic rights care services to adibashi and rural community people including women victims of torture and organized violence. The output will be organized human rights training and development of a cadre of human rights care providers among the adibashi boys and girls using the government institution, medical university and selected medical colleges as resource centres. Creating anti-torture movement against torture and organized violence through Zero Pain movement. The output should be development of 5 Community Pain Care Teams in adibashi areas with establishment of Zero Pain Centre in districts.

Description of the proposed activities and their effectiveness;

Activity 01 Home Visit and Fact Finding: The victims of torture, rape, sexual violence and organized violence among adibashi women group will be identified, based on specific criteria, through home visits, fact findings and preliminary investigations among beneficiaries. A screening process of identification of victims will be developed.

Activity 02 Mobile Treatment Clinics (MTC): Mobile Treatment Clinics will be organized for victims (1.) to provide services of doctor’s treatment, physiotherapy, social counselling and legal counselling. The clinic will start with DDCAT lessons[7]. It acts as a bonding process to unite them and empowers to denounce the abuses they have experienced. Later they will initiate to form their own association named “Victims’ Associations”. Provide multi-professional integrated treatment care (IRA[8]) to beneficiaries[9]. This would include counselling, medical care, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, legal counselling, family therapy, follow-ups including home visits and financial assistance. Emphasis will be given on inclusion of indigenous women victims and their family members. Specialists service from Tertiary hospitals will be arranged for severe torture cases that may includes stay in hospital for certain period including emergency surgical intervention or psychiatrist support.

Activity 03 Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Development Training: The project will provide small enterprise development training among the adivashi women for their economic empowerment. 300 Young women will receive livelihood training. The training will be increased socio-economic empowerment through five small entrepreneurship development training centre at community level and they will be involved in tailoring, livestock, poultry, nursing, beauty parlours, job placement and socio cultural level.

Activity 01 Advocacy, campaigns and lobbying: The project will organize advocacy, campaigns and lobbying in national and international level on specific incidences of torture, rape, sexual violence and organized against adibashi women and their family members. The project will organize more than 40 advocacy activities in Bangladesh and mass people will be aware by the project. At global level international urgent action will be pursued with a view to pressure the government to secure their right and to take measure against perpetrator(s).

Activity 02 Human Rights Education: Organize systematic human rights education program on primary health and human rights including process of collection of information on torture, rape, sexual violence and human rights violations, fact-finding, compilation of human rights reports on adinashi people in Bangladesh for distribution among embassies, NGOs, INGOs, GOs and donor agencies. Among adibashi boys and girls a cadre of community human rights defenders as well as human rights fact-finders will be developed. At the end they will form local rehabilitation teams and accessing local government institution like hospitals run by the government. Nearest medical college of selected upozillas will act a resource centre for organizing this health part of training program and BCHRD will use their own resource person for human rights part.

Activity 03 Study on Socio Economic Status of Indigenous Women: Organize a study on Socio-economic status of adibashi women and their family members in Bangladesh and determine their future needs. Finance and Economic experts from partner of this action will help to organize this study. BCHRD and partners organization will also help to build capacity for this research activity.

Activity 04 Alliance Building with likeminded NGOs and INGOs: The project will organize alliance/network building activities within the NGOs and INGOs to promote and protect indigenous human rights in Bangladesh. There will be developed an Alliance/Network against Torture, Rape, Sexual Violence and Organized Violence against indigenous women to create a national and international network among NGOs/INGOs for early intervention. The result should be prevent torture act immediately within 24 hours of arrest/incidence and international reporting within 48 hours through local human rights body with adibashi leadership as local resource human rights centre, and provide legal support to victims within shortest period of arrest/incidence

Involvement of any implementing partners, their role and relationship to the applicant.

Lead organization of the Project: BCHRD is a non-profit non-governmental organization, first and only of its kind, working since 1994 for the treatment & rehabilitation of victims of torture and organized violence (TOV) in Bangladesh and prevention of torture. Since 2000, BCHRD is implementing a community based rehabilitation program for TOV victims (including adibashis) and with treatment clinic operating in Dhaka. The organization operates in the whole country coordinated through its head office in Dhaka. In addition prevention activities are implemented. Among them TFTs[10], VAs[11], DDCAT including Zero pain movement are important preventive components. The TFTs and VAs has been model for possible replication to other countries where torture prevalence is high. Considering the goal of BCHRDto become a centre of knowledge, recently the organization has integrated research as a new component. In addition a CBR centre in Khulna and two Zero Pain centres in Sathkhira and Norail districts functioning as a part of BCHRD rehabilitation program.

The head-office in Dhaka will be responsible for project activities and ensure financial accountability for the implementation and monitoring of project outputs.

National Partner of the project: BCHRD has already developed a nationwide NGO network through them organizing various torture rehabilitation and prevention programs. They are supporting BCHJRD movement against elimination of all form of torture and ill-treatment and organized violence; and taking part in organization campaign and lobby program. In the past with this effort BCHRD was able to ratify the UN Convention against Torture. Now organizing campaign for ratification of Optional Protocol to the CAT. BCHRD in this project will build a partnership collaboration with locally based NGOs: NHRDA (Naogaon Human Rights Development Association based in Naogaon), MUK (Manob Unnayan Kendra based in Meherpur), HRDC-Savar (Human Rights Development Centre-Savar) and BEDO (Based in Dhaka). The role of them will be collaborating with BCHRD in screening of severe victims by collecting formation on torture and organized violence and helping to organized mobile treatment clinic. BCHRD will overall supervise and monitor their activity. The BCHRD from centre will provide all its professional experience, resources and networks for the proper implementation of the programme.

Other possible stakeholders (national, local government, private sector, etc.), their anticipated role and/or potential attitudes towards the project.

The programme will be implemented by BCHRD jointly with local and international partner NGOs mentioned. A special collaboration will be undertaken with the organization networks like local NGOs, TFTs (Task Force against Torture), VAs (Victims Associations), INGOs. The programme will maintain liaison with the Ministry of Home affairs, Ministry of Law & Parliament Affairs along with the NGO Affairs Bureau of the Government of Bangladesh. In addition, all European local embassies and the delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh will receive different reports on torture and human rights violation.

In districts level government medical college hospitals, Medical University in Dhaka and health complexes in upozilla level, health professionals will be integrated within the program activity.

Sustainability of the action

Initial risk analysis and eventual contingency plans: The major risk of the project during implementation of the project would be attitude of the government in power in that time towards respect for human rights. The sudden political instability, army in power and in addition sudden natural disaster may halt or delay the progression of the project.

The tribes/adibashis peoples, the main target groups, may not trust the BCHRD at the initial stage and may not cooperate to rehabilitation and training program due worried about their security and confidentiality. Similarly project staff and organizations may face threats, and or security problems from local administrations.

Main preconditions and assumptions during and after the implementation phase: As mentioned in risk analysis the political situation and attitude of the government during implementing of this project will create an important impact on implementation and outcome of this project. In addition BCHRD is expecting of getting prior permission from the NGO Affairs Bureau in Bangladesh to implement the project as per their guideline.

Sustainability after completion of the action: The treatment and rehabilitation work of the project would an important sustainable and visible activity. In addition, formation of new victims associations (VAs) would bear long-term sustainability or rehabilitation work. The impact of DDCAT within VAs will build human rights culture within the associations as a synergic work and adibashi people will aware about torture. The development of primary health care provider in the field of mental health and Zero Pain Centre would be another visible example of sustainability of the project.

[1] RAB (Rapid Action Battalion), Joint Force (Army and other para-military force, Policeetc.) etc.

[2] Amnesty International, UK, US State Department, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, OMCT-SOS Torture, Geneva, BRCT, Adhikar.

[3] Human Rights Situation Report 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014: US State Department;

[4] Source: History & Life style of tribes written by Md. Ainal Haque

[5] First Information Report: Beginning a case from local police station.

[6] Ref. Guidelines for grant applicants ...(Europe Aid/126456/L/ACT/BD), 1.2.1 Global Objectives and Priority Issues

[7] DDCAT (Door to Door Campaign against Torture): an anti-torture empowerment campaign initiated by the founder of BRCT in 2000 written in flyer consists of slogans on people’s rights and to raise their process.

[8] IRA: Intergrated Rehabilitation Approach

[9] minority/adibashi victims of torture and organized violence

[10] TFT : Task Force Against Torture, an independent anti-torture platform in districts formed by BCHRD.

[11] VA: Victim Association, a self-help group of TOV victims.



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