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“I am responsible for women and children, two of the most vulnerable groups in our country. This means that I can’t treat their cases like other cases. I have to listen; I have to feel. I have to see their problems from a more humane perspective, with absolutely no room for subjective judgement. I feel most officers don’t take a personal interest in such cases. To them, this is just a job. But to me, this is more of a duty. Not just a duty towards my profession, but a duty towards my people, my community, my country.”- says Aklima Akter. 
Aklima Akter, sub-inspector at the Women Help Desk at the Pallabi police station, handles cases for victims of gender-based violence. She has received much training but argues that no amount of theoretical training can replace the real-life learning gained at a Women Help Desk. 

 “I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the truth doesn’t always match the circumstance. A seven-year-old disabled girl was bleeding from her ears, which led her parents to bring her to us. It was apparent that she had been raped, but the culprit was yet to be found. Her family members blamed one man, but we eventually found out that he had nothing to do with it. In fact, the real culprit was her brother-in-law, who had raped her countless times but pretended to be the most worried about this case and was constantly blaming us for not doing our job well. Due to his aggression and other behavioural issues, I had a feeling he could be the real culprit. My instincts were right.”

Women in Bangladesh often have a lower status in society, and are treated as subordinate to men. This contributes directly to violence against then in the form of physical assault, sexual violence and child marriage. In Bangladesh, 72.6% of women have experienced some type of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
However, some strong women are coming out in support of their more vulnerable sisters. One such woman is Aklima Akter. With UNFPA support, Bangladesh police have established 31 Women Help Desks in four districts and the Dhaka metropolitan area. They are accelerating the establishment of further women and children help desks across the country to ensure the provision of legal information, assistance and referral in cases of gender-based violence. 

“My motivation lies within me and my surroundings. But this would not have been possible without UNFPA. Thank you, UNFPA, for your financial and technical assistance in bringing Women Help Desks closer to women and girls and making sure that no is left behind.” 

In 1994, representatives of 179 countries attending the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) created a Programme of Action which  affirms the importance of ending gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls. ICPD also reaffirmed the significance of investing in sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, as a precondition for women’s empowerment. Fulfilling #ICPD is essential to achieving #SDGs. 

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