This study analyzes the range of vulnerabilities among the left behind women (LBW) and their coping strategies primarily focusing on Self Help Groups (SHGs). The basic data used in this paper were collected as part of the Mid Term Review of a cross country intervention on Enhancing Mobile Populations’ Access to HIV&AIDS Services, Information and Support (EMPHASIS) in South Asia in 2012. The reproductive vulnerabilities of the left behind women like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reproductive tract infections (RTIs), human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) are primarily due to the risky sexual behaviour of husbands at destination. The other vulnerabilities faced by the left behind women are the lack of capacity in treatment seeking, physical harassments and social vulnerabilities with the blind administrative response. The self-help groups have proved to be a boon in the life of these left behind women in Bangladesh and have also moulded their lives for beneficence. Compared to their previous lives without the association of self-help groups, left behind women can now address their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and impart this knowledge to their husband and ask them to abstain from sex in India or to have safe sex with female sex workers (FSWs). Self help groups also have impacted their social and financial positions reducing social harassment. The mobility of the left behind women has increased in and outside community improving their treatment seeking behaviour. They have now become literate about their sexual and reproductive rights and negotiate with their husbands to use condoms when they come back.
Key words: Left behind women, cross border migration, Bangladesh, reproductive vulnerability, HIV & AIDS.
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