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Maisha’s story of standing up to sexual harassment

“We have recorded many videos of you through the window.  Call this number and send us 10,000 TAKA (approximately 120$) or we will make these videos go viral on Facebook!”

18-year old Maisha from Mymensingh District stood in shock as her younger brother ran home at 11 PM one night and showed her this note he had found in the family toilet. She knew that the toilet had a tiny window, but she could have never imagined that someone could be so twisted as to film her private moments in secret.

“I was so worried and nervous when I saw the message. First I started blaming myself, but then I thought why? I had done nothing wrong! Why should I suffer?” Maisha recounts her feelings at the moment she learned about the message. 

Maisha immediately told her parents about the note and was happy with the consolation she immediately received from them. “My family, especially my father, was very supportive. He took the issue very seriously and wanted to find the culprit,” Maisha explains.

However, the family had no idea what they should do. Everyone was worried about what would happen if the videos would actually be published and go viral. “Eventually, I called one of my close relatives in Dhaka, who immediately called 999 (the national emergency number) on my behalf,” Maisha says.

The family member advised Maisha to send an email to the police station, going over the details of the incident. Just the next day, Maisha and her father were asked to come to the local police station and do a general diary. “I received tremendous support from the local police. They took serious actions and eventually, the culprits were caught by tracking the calls of the phone number that was written on the note,” Maisha recounts.

To the relief of Maisha and her family, the police also found out that the video recordings of Maisha actually never existed. The group of three boys, who were arrested for the crime, had simply tried to blackmail the family for money. Maisha was able to take a big sigh of relief, proud of the fact that she had taken the right course of action to address the crisis.

“I am sharing my story to encourage other girls to report any kind of violence that they may face. If we are afraid, they will continue to harass us even more!” Maisha declares with a big smile on her face.

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNFPA encourages women across Bangladesh to not remain silent in the face of sexual, physical or mental abuse. By supporting a variety of emergency helplines in the country, UNFPA aims to ensure that support to survivors of gender-based violence is always available in the country.

Call 109 or 999 to report if you or your loved one is being violated! You will be referred for the legal, medical or psychosocial aid the survivor may require.