STARS RE­MINDED OF THE HARSH RE­AL­ITY

The Cricket Paper - - ENGLAND TOUR OF BANGLADESH -

Eng­land’s crick­eters have not seen much of Bangladesh out­side of their ho­tels and the grounds on this tour due to the heavy se­cu­rity. How­ever, they had a very mov­ing and mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ence on Tues­day evening when they heard first-hand from sur­vivors of acid attacks dur­ing a func­tion at the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sion in Dhaka.

The UK Government is fund­ing a pro­gramme to help vic­tims of vi­o­lence in the Asian coun­try, where up to 80 per cent of mar­ried women are sub­ject to do­mes­tic abuse.

Among the worst cases are those who are dis­fig­ured for life by cow­ardly acid attacks.To ad­dress the is­sue the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment is sup­port­ing pro­grammes in Bangladesh that en­sure vic­tims have ac­cess to se­cu­rity, jus­tice and health ser­vices. They also work with men and boys to tackle the root causes of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Eng­land’s play­ers at­tended the event to raise aware­ness of the is­sue and the UK’s ef­forts to help com­bat it. They heard from five sur­vivors of abuse, the youngest of who was just 16.

Af­ter­wards the play­ers were able to ask ques­tions, with sev­eral in­sight­ful queries be­ing dili­gently an­swered by the coura­geous speak­ers.

Eng­land cap­tain Alastair Cook said:“Ev­ery­one here is very brave to be talk­ing about the sto­ries, and it takes a lot of courage and con­vic­tion to talk about some­thing which is ob­vi­ously so hor­ren­dous.”

Tom Har­ri­son, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board, was also in at­ten­dance.

He said:“I’m pleased the Eng­land Cricket Team had the op­por­tu­nity to learn more about the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment’s work in Bangladesh.

“We have been left in no doubt that the UK’s ef­forts in sup­port­ing vic­tims of vi­o­lence, par­tic­u­larly acid attacks that sadly see such promi­nence in the coun­try, are chang­ing lives and giv­ing those af­fected the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port they so des­per­ately need.

“I am sure the visit has been a mov­ing and ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for the play­ers.”

There was also a speech at a drinks re­cep­tion af­ter­wards by Alison Blake, the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner in Bangladesh, spoke of how this tour has sparked “cricket fever” in the coun­try.

Bangladesh are clearly grate­ful Eng­land have made this trip and as well the sport­ing im­pact it has made, Tues­day’s event also brought home that the tour is about much more than just cricket. By CHRIS STOCKS

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Emo­tional meet­ing: Alastair Cook meets acid-at­tack vic­tims who have suf­fered do­mes­tic abuse dur­ing a func­tion the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sion

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