This article gives account for a domestic violence study conducted in 12 haor areas (areas that flood regularly) in the northeastern region of Bangladesh. Concern Worldwide (an international NGO) has been implementing integrated rural development projects in three remote sub-districts- Khaliajuri, Itna, and Gowainghat- or the last ten years. Key project activities include the formation of community groups with the poor for raising awareness, human development training, skill training, non-formal education, saving and credit schemes, and rural infrastructure development. Roughly 96% of the group participants are women and the activities aim to contribute to the socio-economic empowerment of poor women. A research study was undertaken in 2003 in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme; to determine the socio-economic factors contributing domestic violence; the most common types of abuse and their health consequences; reductions of physical and mental abuse of housewives due to Concern's interventions. The research methodology used was based on PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) methods with social mapping of poverty; family relationships diagrams; focus group discussions; and Venn diagrams. The results are presented defining the fabric of inter-household relationships; analysing abuse in family relationships; and looking at defence strategies. The authors go on to the effectiveness of the Concern Project, examining housewives' feelings about power and ways to achieve power. Lessons learned form the project are summarised and it is concluded that processes of change in gender relations and attitudes are ongoing and take time and that it is equally important to work with both women and men to change attitudes.
International Institute for Environment and Development