Dark Side of Our Sympathy

By Fardin Hasin for AlalODulal

In March 2016, a girl was brutally raped and murdered inside Comilla Cantonment. The crime was surrounded by a lot of mysteries, most of which are yet to be brought to light due to the authority’s unwillingness to do any proper investigation. People were quick to react; protests sprung up in both Dhaka and Comilla along with some other places. The hashtag #JusticeForX (I will not reveal her name here for reasons I am going to explain later) spread throughout Facebook; often complemented by cover photos depicting the words ‘Justice For X’ superimposed on the victim’s picture.

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Consensual Rape?

By Nasrin Siraj for Thotkata, translated by Alal O Dulal

On 25 November 2015 the court sentenced Parimal Joydhar, a teacher of Viqarunnisa Noon School, for raping a girl in Year 10.

The incident happened in 2010. The situation in our country is so bad that the school-authority had tried to protect the criminal in many ways than to take the matter – of this horrific sexual abuse – to the law. The school-authority even expressed its concerns that ‘the attitudes and dresses of girls are inviting’.

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

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

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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Reflections on “Unprecedented Changes” in the Garments Sector of Bangladesh

Garments workers
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights’ report Unprecedented Changes.

by Farida Khan for AlalODulal.org

The Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse has made many Western consumers shudder at the thought of their complicity with sub-human conditions in the Third World factories where their clothes are sewn. While consumers are often careful to avoid purchasing soccer balls sewn by child labor Continue reading “Reflections on “Unprecedented Changes” in the Garments Sector of Bangladesh”

Unprecedented Changes in the Garments Sector of Bangladesh

by Farhad Mahmud for AlalODulal.org

Soon after the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse, there were two types of reaction from the buyers who were sourcing garments from Bangladesh.  There was one group who felt they need to move away from sourcing from Bangladesh.  Another group felt somewhat responsible  Continue reading “Unprecedented Changes in the Garments Sector of Bangladesh”

Apsari Chakma: Life in the School Room

When I was very little my mother used to tell me all kinds of bedtime fairytale stories. I used to think that the fairy princesses from these stories were supremely happy and content. You could say, my life now is the exact opposite of their lives.

Life in the School Room

by Apsari Chakma, translated by Tibra Ali for AlalODulal.org Continue reading “Apsari Chakma: Life in the School Room”

Publishing the images of teen sex workers is nothing but a showcase of poverty

টিনেজ যৌনকর্মীদের ছবি প্রকাশ, দারিদ্র্যতা শো করা ছাড়া অন্য কিছু না  – মৃদুল শাওন

ফেসবুকে কয়েকজনরে দেখলাম একটা লিঙ্ক শেয়ার দিতাছে। ‘BuzzFeed’ নামের একটা আমেরিকান ওয়েবসাইটে বাংলাদেশের টিনেজ-যৌনকর্মীদের তিরিশটা ছবি। শিরোনাম- “30 Tragic, Beautiful Photos Of Teenage Prostitutes In Bangladesh”। Continue reading “Publishing the images of teen sex workers is nothing but a showcase of poverty”

Let’s talk about Rape (in Bangladesh)

Let’s talk about Rape (in Bangladesh)

By Nadine S. Murshid for AlalODulal.org

There is something fundamentally wrong with men (and women) who rape. It is a maladaptation of sex, a manifestation of psychopathology, a sign of being a sociopath or a psychopath, a tool to garner control, and an outward expression of deep internal anger and resentment.  In the context of Bangladesh (as elsewhere), it is also a response to sexual repression, lack of education about sex and appropriate sexual behaviors, and patriarchal values that give men (or those with power) the right to dominate and control women and their bodies (or, whichever party is deemed to be powerless).

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Dina Siddiqi: Do Bangladeshi factory workers need saving? Sisterhood in the post-sweatshop era

This 2009 article revisits the figure of the ‘third world sweatshop worker’, long iconic of the excesses of the global expansion of flexible accumulation in late twentieth-century capitalism. I am interested in how feminist activists concerned with the uneven impact of neo-liberal policies can engage in progressive political interventions without participating in the ‘culture of global moralism’ that continues to surround conventional representations of third world workers. Continue reading “Dina Siddiqi: Do Bangladeshi factory workers need saving? Sisterhood in the post-sweatshop era”

Seuty Sabur: Did “NGOization” deradicalize the women’s movement?

Did “NGOization” deradicalize the women’s movement?
by Seuty Sabur for AlalODulal.org [please do not reprint without permission]

I thought of writing this essay on 11thMay itself, after attending the Women’s Grand Rally. But we had to finish cataloging the missing persons’ photos from the Rana Plaza collapse, and tabulate their data for the archives. We, meaning the Chobbishe April (April 24) collective – activist anthropologists, sociologist, journalists and photographers – had to continue to count the bodies. Continue reading “Seuty Sabur: Did “NGOization” deradicalize the women’s movement?”

Faruk Wasif: The Writer in Front of Shahbag

The Writer in Front of Shahbag
By Faruk Wasif. Translated by Tibra Ali for AlalODulal.org.

Hasnat Abdul Hye has proved that deep down he too is a lecherous and misogynist writer Rosu Khan. Through the murder of Rabbi bhai’s teenager son Towki we witnessed the brutal suppression of the innocence of our time. Hasnat Abdul Hye’s short story is then the rape of the innocence of the Shahbag movement. Continue reading “Faruk Wasif: The Writer in Front of Shahbag”

Female voters — the missing variable

Pundits are seeing revolution everywhere in Bangladesh these days.  First there was the Shahbag revolution, which was supposed to start the second liberation war.  Now there is the Hefazot revolution, which is turning Bangladesh into Afghanistan via Syria.  And then there has been all the speculation about disturbances in the force.  In between, pundits (and fellow bloggers) have seen black-and-white birds, various flags, and politics that keep on getting deeper.  For all that talk, I think the most likely path of political change in Bangladesh is still through an election participated by both main parties.  I am going to eschew various deep analysis of these revolutions, and focus on some simple political calculations.

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Shahbagh: For fiery sisters

We easily forget the names of Kalpana Datta, Shanti Ghose, Shuniti Chowdhury, Beena Das, Leela Rai, Nanibala Devi, Du’Koribala Devi, Matangini Hajra and names of many other revolutionary women who played active roles in the fight for independence against the British. Even if the name of Ila Mitra, the legendary female leader of the Santal revolt at Nachol, comes up occasionally, we never recall the women of the then Muslim League who played active and important roles in the language movement of 1952.
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“If she’s habitual, we can’t prove rape”

A trifecta of misogynists, always blaming the victim:
1. Extraordinarily misogynist and dangerous TV media coverage.
2. OC of a Police Station who says if the woman is having a physical relationship with boyfriend, they can’t prove rape by anyone else.
3. Video reposted on YouTube by an “activist” who calls women “bitches” (“Mushfiq Rahman Tomal who control yaba and bitches in town”)

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How far is Delhi from Rangamati?

Recently two gang-rapes took place; one is in Delhi and another in Rangamati… In Rangamati case, a Marma school-girl of class-eight was gang-raped in Rangamati on December 21. Three Bengali settlers raped the fourteen-year Marma girl and killed her afterward. As rape cases, both events were similar in its forms and consequences and thereby both cases were expected to trigger serious reaction and massive protests in the society… it happened otherwise in Rangamati case which unveils the class relations of demonstration and ugly face of minority-majority politics prevalent in Bangladesh.

Letter from an unborn child

by Saydia Gulrukh

Ultrasonic images of pregnant Mimi (pseudonym) taken less than a fortnight before fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions on November 24, 2012 burning to death 112 workers, according to the government and the BGMEA; the actual death toll, according to family members of missing workers, labour organisations and activists, is much higher.

Honourable prime minister,
I AM an unborn citizen of Bangladesh. I was killed before I was born. My mother was twenty-two weeks and three days pregnant with me when fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions in Nischintapur.

I was killed before I was born. Continue reading “Letter from an unborn child”

Tazreen: Rokeya Bahini says BGMEA protects killers

Dear journalist brothers and sisters,

Many garment workers died on the evening of November 24th when fire broke out in Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia’s Nischintapur. The exact death toll is still unknown. According to the government, 112 workers had died but many family members were unable to identify their beloved ones as the flesh had burnt away leaving behind only charred bones and skeletons. Fifty three unidentified bodies have been buried in Jurain graveyard. But several investigative reports have concluded that the death toll is higher. Some of us have conducted preliminary research in Nischintapur’s Buripara at our own initiative, and, we too, have been forced to reach the same conclusion. The government and the BGMEA should immediately have launched a serious drive to ascertain the exact number of those who have died, but instead they displayed a callous indifference which amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence. Continue reading “Tazreen: Rokeya Bahini says BGMEA protects killers”

The male gaze: ‘Hey, it’s a girl! and it’s a hilly chick!!’

Ever since I had taken admission to the university, I could feel dozens of eyes were following me. Be it while I walk down the corridors of the university library, or loitering around the faculty buildings. The eyes were gazing at me with an expression that they found something peculiar.

Many of the girls, of course Bengali, said they have nearly same experience for being a girl. But, my experience was totally different from them. ‘Hey, it’s a girl! and it’s a hilly chick!!,’ whispered the eyes among themselves. Moments after, the eyes get voices in commanding physiques. And the sentence remain almost the same to each of the voices, ‘I want to be a friend of yours. Cause I am very much interested about “upajatis”.’

Continue reading “The male gaze: ‘Hey, it’s a girl! and it’s a hilly chick!!’”

The formidable 14 year old

This a 14 year old girl from one of the most socially backward, deprived and uncivilized areas of the World — Swat Valley pakistan.

Her name is Malala Yousufzai. Although she is only a 14 year old 8th grader, she definitely is not like any other 14 year old in the world.

She is an embodiment of passion, bravado, activism. She is the example what ‘standing up for right’ means in real life.
She probably is the youngest and most inspirational politicians in Asia, if not in the World. Just search her name in Youtube. You will see hundreds of TV interviews of Malala — some 30 minute, some hour long. You will see her fiery stump speeches.
Continue reading “The formidable 14 year old”

GENDER: Shaon and our society

These days our national discourse — the facebook broadcasts, the print media junks — have made villain out of Shaon, the just widowed wife of deceased writer Humayun Ahmed.

Wife Shaon and publisher Mazhar are the villains in all Bangladeshi tabloids now a days. But these are the two people who were with Humayun during his last lap. Shaon’s struggle to save Humayun was en epic battle. Can anyone imagine how difficult it was for her to move to NY with two very young kids and a sick man who, all his life, is used to have everything done for him, including bringing a glass of water? Shaon had to start a family from scratch. Singlehandedly. Mazhar and some occasional local Bangladeshi vagabonds helped her out once a while.

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I am my own guardian

Received by email from Mahmudul Sumon, Dept of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University.
Conversation between a traffic police and a public in Dhaka (2012)

Police says: this car is parked illegally …you are fined
Public says: (the care owner) But where is it written that this is a no parking zone (also indicates that a ministry car was just parked here; you didn’t say anything to that car) Continue reading “I am my own guardian”