The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees human rights for everyone. Yet, exercising one’s freedom of speech in the country can be a deadly activity. The security forces have been severely criticized by global human rights groups for their brutal abuse of human rights, Bangladesh has the highest rate of marriage in the world for girls under the age of 15.
Yet, despite these very serious problems, countless youth and many government officials are working very hard to defend human rights.
In April of 2015, Sandra Lucas was asked by Youth for Human Rights to travel to Dhaka to help promote human rights education.
Within a week of arriving in Bangladesh she helped establish the first National Youth for Human Rights Chapter of Bangladesh under the direction of two young and enthusiastic law human rights advocates, Saimum Talkuder and Abdullah Al Noman.
The delivery of several seminars on human rights at different universities helped create another six chapters under the umbrella of the national chapter, and the Youth for Human Rights teaching manual was officially adopted as part of the curriculum of one of the leading private university in the country.
Not to be outdone, the well-known Center for Literacy in Dhaka hosted a workshop on human rights at their facility where over 100 young Bangladeshis heard about the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Deputy Police Commissioners, volunteers & Sandra Lucas
This very successful first week was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh. This MoU details the plans for the further expansion of human rights education across the country.
The materials were also embraced by a Deputy Police Commissioner who gave his first human rights workshop to police officers in Dhaka, and who has continued the human rights education with police officers ever since.
Another workshop was conducted at the offices of the “Street Lawyers”, a passionate group of young law students who help protect the rights of destitute people. A visit to an orphanage outside of Dhaka resulted in many human rights booklets being given to the children.
Besides expanding human rights education, the road was paved for The Way to Happiness with a seminar being delivered at a university, resulting in students getting involved in further developing plans for teaching this simple but effective guide on morals and values.
There are now over 600 young volunteers teaching human rights in Dhaka under the direction of Abdullah Al Noman.
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