Standing up Against Gender-based Violence

Hello! I am Mohaiminul Raqib and I am a citizen of Bangladesh. I started my journey of becoming an activist and development worker in 2017 when I was just 21 years old. I pursued my education at the University of Dhaka, which is considered as the “Oxford of the East”. However, my story started long before and profoundly shaped my career path and attending university was just a minor step.

I was born in a Muslim society and patriarchally dominated family. Childhood was somewhat better than for the majority and I could not expect anything better. I felt that I had all that was needed in my life. I was bright, loved socializing and making new friends. Being a single child of my parents was a loving memory for me. But the love and happiness did not last long. A home of love, day by day started to turn into a place of sorrow and tragedy, as my parents relationship became unhealthy. I had to witness violence and abuse every now and then. Being a small child, I felt scared and my sense of security was stunted. I started feeling the absence of love, was hurt by broken family ties and was always seeking care. All these incidents, over time, became very traumatizing for me. But I remain grateful to my mother for always being there for me and for being both my mother and father during my early childhood and my adolescence. The most fascinating fact was I could always realize her contribution to my growth as she always believed in me and my visions. I would love every person to feel this kind of support.

As a child, I was always active. I loved sports, adventure and meeting new people. I could always make new friends and connect to them on a deeper level.  I got this inspiration from my mother. Her sense of empathy taught me how to behave, communicate and make stronger bonds with people. I loved sharing stories of our lives and supporting my friends on their highs and lows. But I was also scared and frightened of abusive behaviors, I was afraid of feeling unloved and always would pray to God that I never witness any violence again. Both the positive and negative aspects of my life have helped me to shape who I am. From not having any parents of mine attending my parents meeting in school I have learned how to control my emotions and peer pressure, from attending the tuition at night all alone I have learned not to fear, from not having a senior male person at home I learned how to balance life and interact with the society. All of these situations have helped me to grow and become stronger, being now more concerned, tolerant, hard-working, and understanding.

As I missed my father, there were times when I needed help to deal with society. At times, I felt I was on my own. As a part of this process, I grew a sense of accountability and responsibility. Aware of the hardship that my mother endured, made me realize that something must be done to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV). As I was heavily affected by it, I noticed I did not want this experience to happen to anyone else. Witnessing violence from childhood can be very traumatizing, as it causes anxiety and creates insecurity regarding survival due to lack of love and care. My personal growth was hampered due to the unsafe family environment for which I had to struggle a lot in my school, playground, and basically, all other areas of my life as well. As such, I can understand and empathize with the struggles of GBV affected families. Such experiences shaped me to work for GBV eradication and attain gender equality. 

Being a son of GBV victims I could feel the pain of youths who were hurt and deprived in several ways. Since I mentored myself to keep my mental health in check and speak up for myself I decided to create a private, online platform where I shared my story and I created an opportunity to share all of our stories to create a bigger movement where we will feel valued and listened. This is how the project “Na Bola Kotha” (The Unspoken Words) was born. It is designed to create awareness on mental health issues, break the stigma about mental health, and speak out the life stories of the youth to create knowledge about existing oppression. This project aims to bring the untold stories in front of mass to raise awareness on the mental health issues of the victims and youths of our society. I am really proud that I could motivate and create awareness among 10000 youths so far. I believe that activism can be combined with social entrepreneurship, innovation and community building to create more resilient communities standing up for their rights and building each day a vision of a better world.

Through my work until now we have youth, victims and community engagement, and most importantly, mass awareness creation. For me, raising awareness through building a strong connection is an achievement for my activism. In the coming times, I would like to further explore my work with GBV victims and deprived children of GBV victims. I see how this actions can help to reduce patriarchal mindset, religious extremism, rate of violence, marital rape, and dowry. My work is deeply connected with the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Through an integral and long-term approach, I believe we can build the pillars for a better society.

I want to go beyond my immediate environment. I want to be a global leader in the field. I want to work with stakeholders from all over the earth.  I want to see a world where there will be no violence, no women and children living in fear, where people get their valuable rights, where children from broken families will get access to proper education and access to social and cultural institutions. But to build such an incredible world, we, the victims from GBV affected families, will require to unite together, reach out to a larger community where we can demand our rights, access to political, social and cultural institutions. We need access to funding for our educational development, create a sustainable workspace, create employment for the unemployed victims, and eradicate GBV for a safe family atmosphere. We need more institutions to accelerate our growth, access to facilities of physical and mental healthcare, and incubators for skills development. 

I believe we can develop and propagate our movement and create a safe space for living, attain better health conditions and improve literacy which in turn will create skilled human beings. We must ensure that the youths join our movement. As they possess the empathy to acknowledge the trauma and difficulties of survival of victims of GBV. The effect of physical and mental trauma can be a lifelong tragedy that can cost a lot. GBV affected families including mine are deprived of numerous facilities and it creates a heavy toll. We, as a movement, have the power to motivate the victim to raise their voice against oppression, attain civic rights, speak up for their needs and wants, and most importantly ensure inclusion in the society as a normal citizen. The outcome of the movement can highly impact mental health conditions for a better life. We want hundreds to share their life story, sending the reminder that, “I am not alone and we are not alone”. We can say to the world that, “no matter what happens, we can always choose to be better, we can always speak up for ourselves, listen to others' lives and build harmony and peace.” We, the victims of GBV, deserve to be treated well, have a safe environment and to live a life with dignity and respect. That is why we share the motivating values of non-violence, equity, equality, and justice. We believe peace and harmony in families, schools, work-spaces, and religious institutions can go a long way to make this world a better place to live.


Get in touch with Mohaiminul Raqib on LinkedIn



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