A few dos and don’ts in the movement against sexual assault

Copyright: Awrup Sanyal

Copyright: Awrup Sanyal

By Nadine Shaanta Murshid 

UNPRECEDENTED levels of outrage and activism surround the Pahela Baishakh sexual assault; we have finally reached critical mass: people are out on the streets and those who are not, are on social media fighting many a battle with individuals who still resort to victim blaming and slut shaming. These are oft-used tactics to further subjugate women and take agency away from people who fight for the rights of women subject to sexual assault and rape. That the synchronised bomb-attack style sexual assault on multiple women have enraged so many people comes as a surprise in a nation where topics of sex and sexual assault have remained taboo, despite extremely high rates of sexual violence against women. This is a welcome change. So while we are at it, here are a few things we should add on to the list:

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Stop this Descent

Image: thedailystar.net

Image: thedailystar.net

by Zahur Ahmed for AlalODulal

Feedback’s quintessential song for Pohela Boishak, the first day of a Bengali New Year,  “Melay Jaire” has a line on the third stranza, “বখাটে ছেলের ভিড়ে ললনাদের রেহাই নাই — the crowd of ruffians won’t spare the girls”. The lyricist Maqsoodul Haque had a deep insight into our tradition, culture and attitude. What might have been overlooked as a humorous innuendo has become a sad reality during this year’s Bengali New Year celebrations, as a number of women fell victims to horrid gang assaults on broad day light amid the thousands enjoying the festivities.

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Midnight’s Evangelists

"Bangladeshi migrants waiting for a flight home." by stablisation unit/DFID, licensed under CC by 2.0

“Bangladeshi migrants waiting for a flight home.” (photo: stablisation unit/DFID, licensed under CC by 2.0)

Each day, all year round, as Bangladesh goes to sleep – a group of fortunetellers, mystics, and magicians wake up to start casting their spell. You probably have never seen or heard them. Yet they are neither invisible nor quiet. In fact, they actually advertise their messages and locations loud and clear. Continue reading

National anthem and the disjointed conscience: the rift between two Bengals

Photo: bbc.com

Photo: bbc.com

By Pratik Deb for AlalODulal

The national anthem of Bangladesh, penned by Tagore, is not exclusively sung on one side of the fence, neither is its use stringently limited for the national occasions of Bangladesh. Unlike the national anthem of most nations, Bangladesh’s national anthem has an everyday appeal in its core that keeps it alive amid the unremarkable occasions, especially in West Bengal where it does not get limited by its officialdom.
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Cricket Nationalism: Death threats against Kabir Suman

Facebook death threat against Kabir Sumon

Death threat against Kabir Sumon from RSS Facebook page

Kabir Suman: “After such impassioned appeal (“Is there no one who can kill this piece of pube?”), after such frantic and helpless SOS, will no one come forward? I am a 66-year-old aging man. My limbs tremble and shake… Even children can take me down with utmost ease. Will it be a “Boimela” (book fair) for me too? The next Kolkata Boimela perhaps? Would it be right to keep me alive that long?”

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Monajatuddin: The Minstrel Journalist

Monajatuddin (photo: Pabna News)

Monajatuddin (source: Pabna News)

by Adnan R. Amin for AlalODulal.org

The works of Monajatuddin – the Minstrel Journalist – have had more of a shaping role in contemporary Bangladesh than that of many a politicians, development-pundits, editors or litterateurs. Take for example, the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2014, only recently okayed by the cabinet. It was Monajatuddin’s keen, investigative reporting on child marriage that informed and laid the groundwork for necessary social-debates and policy-making. Continue reading