Equal Human Rights: What we achieved in 2022
When violence, oppression and exploitation arise at the grassroots level, NETZ human rights defenders intervene. They are equipped with knowledge about their rights and fearlessly demand information and social benefits for marginalized groups from the authorities. Women and men stand up together for the rights of women in particular.
Mayna Begum and her human rights group in Mohanpur frequently heard that poorer families in the village were being denied the issuance of essential documents, despite their legal entitlement to them. Instead, these families were often pressured to pay large bribes. Without birth certificates, their children couldn’t attend school, making bribery a barrier to education. Representatives from the human rights group consulted with concerned parents and escalated the issue to higher authorities. They officially inquired about the actual cost of issuing a birth certificate and received confirmation that the service should essentially be free. Collaborating with the relevant local authority, they developed an action plan to combat this form of corruption. Their efforts proved successful; no one in the village is now asked for an “additional fee” for these documents.
Securing access to social protection
This is just one among many instances where NETZ’s human rights projects have unearthed and eradicated injustices. The cornerstone of these initiatives is local human rights groups like the one led by Mayna Begum. Through training programs, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals gain a deeper understanding of their civil rights and the means to assert them. And the impact is substantial. In 2022 alone, social benefits were successfully secured in a total of 48,800 cases due to these groups’ efforts.
Through structured dialogues involving local authorities, community members, and human rights defenders, other forms of rights violations, abuses of power, and structural disadvantages are also brought to light. The village groups devise solutions and preempt violent escalations of conflicts. They serve as a go-to resource for all local residents and evolve into key institutions within civil society over the course of the projects – and beyond. These groups intervene in cases like forced marriages and domestic violence, acting as conduits to authorities, administrative bodies, and the police, thereby bolstering long-term victim protection. Their network extends nationally, reaching even the capital, Dhaka.
A particular emphasis is placed on youth engagement: An increasing number of young people are taking up the mantle of social justice and gender-based violence awareness, whether in schools or extracurricular groups. This is often accomplished through avenues like public theater performances or discussion forums as part of the “Democratic Dialogue.” Among other achievements, these efforts have led to complaints of sexual assault by girls being taken seriously and properly addressed.
What we have planned for 2023
Violations of rights, especially against women and girls, are on the rise. NETZ continues to closely monitor the human rights situation and will support those affected. We would like to support 939 Human Rights Committees and 328 work groups in schools. The work of the National Platform for Conflict Transformation in Bangladesh NETZ will continue to strengthen.