Campaign for Action Against Online Gender-Based Violence in Bangladesh

Activity 1: Develop and deploy a bi-lingual (Bangla and English) blog-site dedicated solely towards the discussion and debate of online gender based violence in Bangladesh. Also, all other information, communication and education (IEC) materials produced in this project will be showcased and disseminated through this blog site under creative commons licensing attributes. This site will also act as a platform where victims can report incidents of online gender based violence against them – anonymously if they choose so. VOICE will act as the moderator of this blog-site.


Why: Although existing laws like the Digital Security Act (2018) of Bangladesh offer action against cyber abuse, most women never resort to legal measures.


Young, unwed girls are particularly afraid to testify in fear of backlash from parents and community. Some of them have reported to VOICE, that parents, after learning of online abuse (i.e. stalking, bullying, fake photos) took away their smartphone, laptops and halted attending of school/collage. Also, some acts of violence (i.e. sexting, indecent proposals) are perpetrated by powerful individuals (i.e. politically affiliated people, teachers). So the fear and potential humiliation which restraints them from reporting such incidents to the authorities is genuine. Similar findings were confirmed from other researches like The Internet Democracy Project, India.


Thus, a significant number of cases which can solidify the demand for policy measures against online gender based violence is lost. Hence, there must be at least one platform where victims can report such incidents anonymously and without fear.


Also, a primary prerequisite for any campaign to be successful is spontaneously engagement, discussion and debate by target stakeholders. And for that, there needs to be common platform that is identified as non-political and non-partisan. Due to VOICE’s reputation as a non-partisan research organization, the proposed blog site is meant to act as such a platform.


How: Development and maintenance will be outsourced to third party web developer. VOICE staff will manage domain registration, hosting and moderation of the blog service.



Activity 2: Development and distribution of online and offline campaign materials on online gender based violence in Bangladesh.


Sub-activity 2.1.: Writing and publishing of two (2) Bangla articles/editorials in two (2) Bangla national dailies and another two (2) English articles/editorials in two (2) English national daily newspapers.


Why: When it comes to information dissemination, newspaper is still the most trusted and authoritative media in Bangladesh. Particularly, people aged over 30 years find it more convenient than online media in Bangladesh. Moreover, ever since all national dailies became available online, anything that gets published in a national daily becomes automatically available to a substantial number of online audiences as well. Newspaper articles/editorials are among the most popular items shared widely in social media in Bangladesh. The proposed project wants to capitalize on these advantages. Also, campaign in satellite media (i.e. TV channels) in Bangladesh is rather expensive and therefore, despite its effectiveness, is considered beyond the scope of this project.


How: VOICE have already identified a group of influential individuals who regularly write for national dailies, are popular among newspaper readers and also have a good social media / online follower base. VOICE will commission them to write these articles. Also, the authors will widely disseminate the online version of their write up to their followers in social media. Instead of VOICE publishing all these campaign materials, target population will find it more acceptable, credible and trustworthy if they come from different authors and different news media.


Sub-activity 2.2.: Writing and publication of six (6) Bangla blog posts and six (6) English blog posts. These blogs will be published in the proposed blog site, APC supported online platforms (i.e. Take Back the Tech, GenderIT) and will be widely distributed via social media, email lists etc. 


Why: Any newly initiated online platform like a blog needs a regular flow of content to keep participants interested and engaged. Also, as the topic of online gender based violence is relatively new in Bangladesh, initially there needs to be some guided content including facts, graphics, statistics and case studies presented in an easily understandable manner that can generate further discussion and debate by target stakeholders. After the initial period, the community will spontaneously continue to contribute in the form of their own blog posts, comments, shares and likes.


How: Instead of VOICE staff writing these blogs, they will be commissioned to popular youth leaders (predominantly female), internet activists and human rights defenders who have a dedicated following. VOICE have existing working relationship with a group of individuals who have a large follower base in social media. These key influencers will be provided a guideline on the format, structure and content of the blogs. They will also bear the responsibility of distributing the blogs in their networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter).



Sub-activity 2.3.: Development and distribution of animated data visualizations. One (1) original concepts made once in Bangla and once in English – total two data visualizations. These will then be shared in the blogsite, social media, APC supported online platforms (i.e. Take Back the Tech, GenderIT) and other like-minded sites.


Why: Data visualizations are simple, clear, and elegant visual representations of large sets of data. They help to tell a story and give viewers a fuller picture of what the information is telling us. A large number of statistical data on VAW and online VAW in Bangladesh have been collected and compiled overtime. But apart from educated academics and activists, this data is not intuitively understandable to common people who doesn’t know how to glean into large sets of data. To be honest, most people today lack the time and interest to make the effort. Data visualizations can help to effectively change people’s perspective or behaviour.



Activity 3: Conduct one (1) public consultation meeting to collect and compile citizen’s demands and recommendations for policy measures as well as to strategize citizen led actions to prevent and tackle online gender based violence in Bangladesh.  


Why: By the end of the proposed campaign, there will be sufficient awareness about online gender based violence among our stakeholders. VOICE would like to capitalize on this progress by bringing a group of representatives from it’s stakeholders to discuss what kind of policy measures they want to see from the government. The event will also bring together other CSOs and key citizen influencers to explore possible ways of collaboration between CSOs and common citizens thereby creating a ripple effect. VOICE will utilize this platform to strategize it’s future policy advocacy initiatives in this domain.


How: A group of forty (40) key individuals from across VOICE’s stakeholder groups will be selected based on pre-defined selection criteria (i.e. gender balance, ability and willingness to contribute, ethnic diversity). Proceedings and learning from this event will be shared in all media as well as in VOICE’s own networks.