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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 133
August 29, 2009

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Empowering the women human rights defenders

HUMAN rights defenders are, basically involved in uncovering violations and subjecting them to public scrutiny; form pressure groups to demand accountability; and empower individuals and communities to claim their basic entitlements as human beings. This is also the mandate of Odhikar, an organisation that has trained and enhanced the activities of more that 200 human rights defenders across the country. Keeping the mission of the organisation in mind, Odhikar, with support from the Canadian International Development Agency, embarked on a project entitled 'Empowerment of Women Human Rights Defenders' with a view to educating community/grassroots-level women human rights defenders regarding fact-finding and documentation on human rights violations; and to create a network among the families of women victims of violence and women human rights defenders.

Dipu Moni Human and Mahbubey Alam attended the regional conference titled ''Empowerment of Women Human Rights Defenders'', organised by Odhikar at the BRAC Centre Inn on 8-9 August 2009, with participants from South and South East Asia including Saumya Uma, executive director of Women's Research and Action Group, India, Kirity Roy of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, Kolkata, Amrita Sharma of Peace Initiative Network Nepal, Abdul Baseer Naweed, senior researcher, South Asia desk, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong among others.

Kirity Roy termed the killing of innocent Bangladeshis by the Indian border guards 'nothing but murders' and said that such killings should be stopped immediately. The border guard officials of Bangladesh and India should immediately find out a mechanism to stop such indiscriminate killing by the Indian Border Security Force.

Human rights defenders' network of South Asia on Aug 9, 2009 decided to mobilise a campaign in the region against framing anti-terror law that grossly violates human rights. The South Asian Network against Torture and Impunity also agreed to raise their voice for framing law against criminalisation of torture. They also demanded compilation of national security laws of the region to bring about uniformity.

The meeting of SANTI was held at the office of Odhikar on Aug 9, 2009 and presided over by eminent columnist Farhad Mazhar. The network of human rights defenders of the region discussed about their plan of action for the next two years as well enhance their capacity thorough effective communications.

Odhikar believes a human rights movement from the grassroots should be strengthened in order to protect and promote human rights. From this point of view Odhikar felt the necessity to develop a group of women human rights defenders who would reach out to victimised women, listen to their sufferings and problems, report, monitor and take necessary action and work as a pressure group to seek redress. Women human rights defenders can play a vital role to stop violence and injustice against women by building up a victims' network engaged in advocacy and act as a pressure group and become involved in awareness raising activities. Furthermore, it will also be easier for women to share their experiences of abuse and violence with other women, rather than with male human rights defenders.

-Law Desk.


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