Meanwhile, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Bangladesh, triggering a VAWG surge, many shelters and essential services shut down Romela had been married to a cruel, torturous man. “When I was pregnant, he punched me so hard I ended up losing my baby…I wanted to end my life”, she said. She finally escaped when her brother took her to the Tarango women’s shelter, which in partnership with UN Women, was able to expand its integrated programme to provide safe temporary accommodations, legal and medical services, and vocational training to abused women who were looking for a fresh start.
Living in an abusive relationship often erodes women’s choices, self-esteem and potential. Romela had found a place where she could live safely with her 4-year-old daughter. Opening a new chapter in her life, she reflected, “other people always told me how to dress, where to go, and how to live my life. Now, I know these choices rest in my hands”. “I feel confident, my life is more enjoyable,” said the emancipated woman. Tarango houses 30–35 survivors at any given time and delivers 24/7 services that help them recover from trauma, regain their dignity, learn new skills, and get job placement and a two-month cash grant to build their economic resilience. “Our job is to make women feel safe and empowered, and to treat them with the utmost respect and empathy,” said Programme Coordinator Nazlee Nipa.