Rohingya refugees fled violence including widespread sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) against both females and males, which inflicted lasting trauma on the population. In Bangladesh, the challenging living conditions in the camps exposes them to sexual and GBV risks, scarce livelihood opportunities, sexual exploitation, trafficking, child marriages and forced marriages.
Facilities in the Camps
Ensuring access to support services for GBV survivors, as well as safe spaces and facilities for community engagement is important for the prevention of, and response to, GBV in the camps. Service points across 17 camps provide GBV case management, psychosocial services and referrals for individuals who need support. Women and Girl’s Safe Spaces provide a sanctuary for female refugees in a safe, confidential, and comfortable environment, and Community Engagement Centres engage men and boys on GBV prevention and response. A safe house is available for GBV survivors and their family members at risk until a solution is found for their situation. The Community Based Safe Shelter initiative provides immediate safety for survivors with other refugees who voluntarily host them in their shelters.
The SASA! Together community mobilization approach seeks to instigate proactive roles among participants in preventing violence against women; it is implemented by both UNHCR and UNFPA in the camps. Over 800 refugee community activists, leaders, and health actors, including 400 women, completed the first phase of training by the end of 2021. In 2022, SASA! activ- ists and leaders are preparing to engage with their community through various activities including community level sessions, during the second phase of this project that will commence in June.
Involving men and boys is an important part of the prevention and response to GBV. UNHCR’s Male Role Model project carefully identifies and works with men and youth who already avoid violence in their own lives, demonstrate positive relationships and hold gender equitable beliefs. The project works with them to become increasingly capable and influential role models within their communities. Role Models undergo continuous training and mentoring.
The evidence-based Girl Shine curriculum is designed to give young Rohingya girls the skills, knowledge, social networks, and self-confidence to help and protect themselves from GBV, as they navigate through adolescence and beyond. Girl Shine was launched in September 2021 in ten camps and expanded to three additional camps in 2022.
GBV Volunteers and Community Groups
Volunteers and community groups work within the refugee community to find ways to address GBV risks, as well as confront stigma and create community support for survivors to increase their protection. Volunteer groups receive GBV training to assist with identification and referral, as well as to educate the community and individuals about available support, confidentiality, and access to services.
UNHCR and partners work closely with other UN agencies and NGOs as part of the Inter Agency Coordination Group (ISCG), and government authorities, to strengthen GBV prevention, mitigation, and response.