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1.  Strategies to Reduce Exclusion among Populations Living in Urban Slum Settlements in Bangladesh 
The health and rights of populations living in informal or slum settlements are key development issues of the twenty-first century. As of 2007, the majority of the world's population lives in urban areas. More than one billion of these people, or one in three city-dwellers, live in inadequate housing with no or a few basic resources. In Bangladesh, urban slum settlements tend to be located in low-lying, flood-prone, poorly-drained areas, having limited formal garbage disposal and minimal access to safe water and sanitation. These areas are severely crowded, with 4–5 people living in houses of just over 100 sq feet. These conditions of high density of population and poor sanitation exacerbate the spread of diseases. People living in these areas experience social, economic and political exclusion, which bars them from society's basic resources. This paper overviews policies and actions that impact the level of exclusion of people living in urban slum settlements in Bangladesh, with a focus on improving the health and rights of the urban poor. Despite some strategies adopted to ensure better access to water and health, overall, the country does not have a comprehensive policy for urban slum residents, and the situation remains bleak.
PMCID: PMC2928105  PMID: 19761090
Informal settlements; Social exclusion; Slums; Slum settlements; Urban health; Bangladesh
2.  Human rights and reproductive health: political realities and pragmatic choices for married adolescent women living in urban slums, Bangladesh 
Background
In Bangladesh, particularly in urban slums, married adolescent women’s human rights to life, health, and reproductive and sexual health remain adversely affected because of the structural inequalities and political economic, social and cultural conditions which shape how rights are understood, negotiated and lived.
Methods
The focus of the research and methods was anthropological. An initial survey of 153 married adolescent women was carried out and from this group, 50 in-depth interviews were conducted with selected participants and, from the in-depth interviews, a further eight case studies of women and their families were selected for in-depth repeated interviews and case histories.
Results
This paper speaks of the unanticipated complexities when writing on reproductive rights for poor adolescent women living in the slums, where the discourses on ‘universal human rights’ are often removed from the reality of adolescent women’s everyday lives. Married adolescent women and their families remain extremely vulnerable in the unpredictable, crime-prone and insecure urban slum landscape because of their age, gender and poverty. Adolescent women’s understanding of their rights such as the decision to marry early, have children, terminate pregnancies and engage in risky sexual behaviour, are different from the widely accepted discourse on rights globally, which assumes a particular kind of individual thinking and discourse on rights and a certain autonomy women have over their bodies and their lives. This does not necessarily exist in urban slum populations.
Conclusions
The lived experiences and decisions made pertaining to sexual and reproductive health and ‘rights’ exercised by married adolescent women, their families and slum communities, allow us to reflect on the disconnect between the international legal human rights frameworks as applied to sexual and reproductive health rights, and how these are played out on the ground. These notions are far more complex in environments where married adolescent women and their families live in conditions of poverty and socioeconomic deprivation.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S3-S3
PMCID: PMC3287459  PMID: 22376023
3.  Creating a public space and dialogue on sexuality and rights: a case study from Bangladesh 
Health Research Policy and Systems  2011;9(Suppl 1):S12.
This article describes and analyses a research based engagement by a university school of public health in Bangladesh aimed at raising public debate on sexuality and rights and making issues such as discrimination more visible to policy makers and other key stakeholders in a challenging context. The impetus for this work came from participation in an international research programme with a particular interest in bridging international and local understandings of sexual and reproductive rights. The research team worked to create a platform to broaden discussions on sexuality and rights by building on a number of research activities on rural and urban men’s and women’s sexual health concerns, and on changing concepts of sexuality and understandings of sexual rights among specific population groups in Dhaka city, including sexual minorities. Linked to this on-going process of improving the evidence base, there has been a series of learning and capacity building activities over the last four years consisting of training workshops, meetings, conferences and dialogues. These brought together different configurations of stakeholders – members of sexual minorities, academics, service providers, advocacy organisations, media and policy makers. This process contributed to developing more effective advocacy strategies through challenging representations of sexuality and rights in the public domain. Gradually, these efforts brought visibility to hidden or stigmatised sexuality and rights issues through interim outcomes that have created important steps towards changing attitudes and policies. These included creating safe spaces for sexual minorities to meet and strategise, development of learning materials for university students and engagement with legal rights groups on sexual rights. Through this process, it was found to be possible to create a public space and dialogue on sexuality and rights in a conservative and challenging environment like Bangladesh by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to successfully challenge representations of sexuality in the public arena. A further challenge for BRAC University has been to assess its role as a teaching and research organisation, and find a balance between the two roles of research and activism in doing work on sexuality issues in a very sensitive political context.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S12
PMCID: PMC3121129  PMID: 21679379

Results 1-3 (3)