Young Bangla, the country's biggest platform for the youth, has unveiled the website of Women's Safety in Public Places (WSPP), a campaign aimed at curbing the rise in crimes against women.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak formally launched the website during a virtual discussion on women's safety in public places on Thursday evening. The event was organised by Young Bangla, the youth platform of the Centre for Research & Information.
Recalling Bangabandhu's generosity towards women who were violated by the Pakistani Occupation Forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, he said, "Our mothers and sisters made the highest level of sacrifice during the Liberation War."
"When these women gave birth to children, neither they nor their kids knew who their fathers were. But, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman then said -- 'put Bangabandhu's name as the father of these war children. And put their home address as Dhanmondi 32'," the Minister said.
"Had Bangabandhu been alive for 10 more years, he could turn this Bangla into Golden Bengal 40 years down the line from today. Then, 50 years into the independence, we wouldn't have to conduct a webinar to ensure the safety and dignity of women at public places," he added.
To ensure women's safety in public transport, Zunaid asked all bus owners should keep a copy of all digitally registered documents, such as the National ID Card, of drivers and helpers before appointing them so that they could be tracked in case of any untoward incident.
"If one crore people can register through the Surokkha website for vaccination, why can't we ensure that there are digital records of the identities and driving licences of all bus drivers and helpers," he said. "When there is information about these vehicles, it will be ensured that at least any crime occurring in any of these 15 to 20 lakh vehicles will not go unreported."
The Minister said the government is also planning to launch a device that could be worn as a bracelet by women.
"If a women finds herself in a threatening situation, and if that bracelet is shaken or pressed, an alert will be digitally conveyed to the nearby police station. CRI, Young Bangla, UNDP, and ICT can jointly get this done," he added.
Zunaid said they wanted to make an app named Joy with advanced technology so that in an untoward situation, "the scene is recorded through audio or video in an automated way and the crime scene can be digitally tracked".
He also revealed that some customised games are being made for different age groups of children so that they can learn while playing, how to be respectful towards people, particularly women.
Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, underscored the need for engaging youths to make the campaign successful. "I sincerely congratulate all youth organisations and also the youth leaders who have been actively engaged with this campaign and volunteering valuable time to bring positive changes in the society."
She also called other stakeholders to extend necessary support and take actions to make public places safer for all women and girls.
Habibur Rahaman, Associate Coordinator of Young Bangla, shared a summary of the findings from a situation analysis conducted by youth organisations at 10 different places.
A total of 10 youth organisations conducted Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Stakeholder Analysis, and Case Study Analysis in 10 districts. Respondents claimed they often face harassment at public places.
Anup Kumar from Aporajita, Khulna, and Sabitree Hembram youth representatives from UNDP shared individual experiences while engaging stakeholders in districts.
"We have been able to bring a perpetrator to book in our locality with the support of law enforcement agency. Previously, powerful people used to evade justice easily while abusing girls from ethnic communities. The situation has changed for the better," said Sabitree.
However, she called for combined efforts to reinforce the campaign and demanded policy changes to ensure safety in public places for all women.
Amena Begam BPM, Deputy Inspector General (Protection) of Special Branch, Bangladesh Police, and President of Bangladesh Police Women Network (BPWN), highlighted the roles undertaken by Bangladesh Police, especially BPWN, in preventing harassment against women during Covid.