Nearly 80% of Laal’s members faced a form of intimate partner violence and or/ sexual assault. As survivors of a systematic genocidal rape campaign during the Bangladeshi Liberation War of 1971, Bangladeshi women often lack the agency to address the sexual trauma they have endured for generations. To this day, women are not taught to have ownership over their bodily functions, which gives power to the male figures in their lives. In order to address the prevalence of reproductive health issues and sexual violence among Bangladeshi women, Laal’s Reproductive Justice Initiative (RJI) is a 30-week educational intervention that provides culturally sensitive comprehensive sex and reproductive health education (in Bangla) to adult immigrant women. While most sexual assault conversations occur after the incident, there must be preventative measures that address sexual violence early on. Sex education provides an effective foundation to build conversations on healthy relationships, body autonomy and natural rights which empower individuals to advocate for themselves, recognize signs of abuse, and have a network of support. In addition to health topics, the RJI curriculum explores signs of sexual assault, navigating power dynamics, using rape kits, legal ramifications of assault and community resources. The RJI followed a cohort of 30 women over a one-year period and reveals the impact education and support has on sexual violence prevention. Upon demand from the RJI members, the program will expand to providing workshops for men in the Bangladeshi community and cover topics such as healthy relationships and consent.
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