We are RISING!

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Narir Proti Shohingshota Aar Na – Protibaad kori, Protirodh Gori

No More Violence against Women – Let’s Protest, Let’s Resist

 Uddomey Uttoroney Shotokoti (One Billion Rising), an alliance of rights groups, government and private sector institutions, cultural groups, students and activists, is set to mobilise women and men across the country to rise up, walk out and demand an end to violence against women on Thursday (Feb 14) to mark the global ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign being observed.

In Bangladesh, women and men will rise from 1 pm to 1.30 pm in various locations all over Dhaka city as well as in all 66 districts of the country. Instead of one centralised location, the demonstrations will take place in over 39 points in Dhaka and all other districts, including many upazilas and unions across Bangladesh. We call upon people from all walks of life to form similar human-chains and join the awareness programme taking place in the locality and express solidarity. We encourage all to wear red and hoist a red cloth in front of each house, office, factory and other establishments.

In addition to the nationwide programme, a cultural festival titled ‘Uddomey Uttoroney Shotokoti’(OBR Bangladesh) will be held at Shilpakala Academy from 3pm-10pm on the day with space for anyone who pledges to Resist and Protest violence against women to join the movement and RISE with us. The event will start with performances from school children and university youths and also art and photography exhibitions. There will be performances by Nagorik and Shadhona. The evening will also have a concert “No More – Aar Na” with renowned artists like Panthokanai, Chirkut, Palki, Warda Ashraf, Stone Freee, Krishnakoli, Nemesis and many others.

One Billion Rising is a global movement to end violence against women. As many as 200 countries and territories have pledged to rise in solidarity with the global movement. In Bangladesh, the campaign, called ‘Uddomey Uttoroney Shotokoti’, has been carried out in collaboration with different stakeholders.

In the lead up to 14 February, OBR Bangladesh has been implementing a series of activities to create awareness about violence against women and the conditions that not only allow but make inevitable such violations of women to continue unabated. We have over 334 organizations who are actively participating in and supporting the OBR movement.

The objective of this widespread protest across Bangladesh is to break the silence and inaction about violence against women. The reason for choosing Valentine’s Day is because there is a need to bring about a change in the commercialised nature of the day and establish it to be about loving and respecting women. ‘We want everyone to vow on this day that they won’t just give flowers to the women in their lives, but also ensure that they are never subjected to violence,” said Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir, explaining the reasons for choosing February 14 as the day of RISING.

 

In the name of Honour

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Tahmina Shafique

Our lives, as women, in Bangladesh, are founded on a twisted interpretation of “Honour”. This concept is based not on honesty, integrity and fairness, but rather on some perceived “worthiness” and “respectability”. In this light, the Bangladeshi family is viewed as a unit of honour, and the family affects a woman’s identity and social standing; simultaneously, there exists a mutual feedback loop wherein a woman’s conduct, and how it is perceived by others and the society at large, has an impact on the family.

Therefore, it becomes important for us to fulfil the expectations held by family and society in order to be accepted and to experience feelings of belonging to this central institution that we are tied to through birth or marriage.

Unfortunately, the reality of maintaining this honour in our lives is often at odds with our own individual freedom, choice, will or achievement. Our lives are not based on “freedom”, on “liberty” or on the ability to live within a free spirited space. Yet, as a nation, as a society, collectively, we pride ourselves on values such as freedom and democracy.

There is a great deal of research on-going on women across the world, and specifically in South Asia. Increasingly, there are cold hard statistics that clearly indicate escalating levels of violence against women. Missing in these numbers are numerous unreported nightmares faced by women in trying to reconcile with their place in society. No amount of progress in terms of education, class, and development has resulted in the evolution of our society.

obrbd-logoEvery move, every decision that a woman takes must ensure that this honour is restored. So, when a girl is raped or sexually abused by family members, it becomes a secret that must be kept forever, because it will hurt the “honour” or the social standing of the family. Honour, then, is far more important than any damage created within the daughters of families. So, the daughters of these numerous honourable families go through abuse thrice in their lifetime- first, when the actual event occurs; second, in the aftermath of dealing with trauma for a lifetime, and third, dealing with the silence and ignorance of her family.

Even outside of the family boundaries, if a woman is sexually harassed, abused or raped, it is still her duty to keep the honour of her family intact. If she does stand up and fight it, which entails breaking away from silence and talking about it, will invariably hurt the honour of the family, of the acquaintances, of the greater society. Starting from families and the greater society, everyone will continue to use their combined forces to “justify” rape or any form sexual assault- “she was not honourable enough”, she was not dressed appropriately”, “It must have been her fault” and more.

The streets tell women that sexual harassment is all right and honour has a different meaning than we think. Being grabbed, being pinched, being verbally abused is normal. ‘A little bit of sexual abuse is all right and it is common’, that’s what they will tell you. Silence is the “key”. Who would appreciate a woman standing up in the street and creating a chaos? This is definitely not respectful or honourable in the eyes of our society.

Even in a marriage, it must be the woman who must keep that honour intact. Once you sign up, no amount of violence or emotional abuse is justified enough for a decision for walking away. It is the woman’s duty to maintain the honour of her family and her in-laws. Being pushed or thrown by your husband, in the middle of a fight, is simply a moment of anger and nothing more. It in no way indicates violent tendencies. Leaving is often not the first choice a woman is able to take, because walking out leads to series of battles with their own families and the entire society.

Honour even extends to our achievements as women. How can you, as a woman, achieve so much in your work place or in your career? How can an honourable woman put her career first? There must have been something wrong. It is not about intelligence or efficiency or anything more.

It does not end. Honour extends to how we, as women carry ourselves. From what we wear, to what we do, to whom we mingle with, and what we say, is constantly under scrutiny. If you are a daughter of an honourable family, if you are the wife of an honourable husband, if you are a mother, you must maintain the norms that this society has created for you and live up to the expectations that the society has carefully designed for you.

It never ends, really. Not from birth; not even till our very last breath.

Many men, and unfortunately women themselves, too, believe that the well-being of the entire society lies on the shoulders of a woman and, more importantly, in her ability to suffer every wrong, in utter and submissive silence. This means that, while there will be many legal and technical arguments, the actual arena in which all cases of violence against women may be won or lost are the hearts and minds of the ordinary men and women of our society. Because it is really not the law alone that has failed to prevent violence against women; it is the collective, colossal force of prejudice, chauvinism and insensitivity of this very society that has brought us where we are. Unless we change this mindset, unless we change the fundamentals through which we shape a woman’s place in this society, we will continue the twisted legacy of imposing our perverse sense of honour on our daughters, and on women for decades to come.

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Tahmina Shafique works in an international development agency in Bangladesh. She is a part of VDAY Dhaka and a member of the core organizing group of One Billion Rising Campaign Bangladesh.

published: http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2013/01/15/in-the-name-of-honour/

Voices of South Asian Women… Join us! The time is now!

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South Asian Women’s Day celebrates the voices of South Asian women, their rights and belief in peace, justice, human rights and democracy. Following the declaration of this day by Sangat – A South Asian Feminist Network – in October 2002, every year, several organisations have come together as part of the International Fortnight Campaign against violence against women to express South Asian women’s solidarity for peace, justice, human rights and democracy.

 The region of South Asia is bound by a common thread of history, language, arts and culture. Its concerns are similar too—rising levels of poverty, widening income gaps, greater emphasis on weapons and military, increasing intolerance towards minorities, civil unrest, human rights’ violations, and most of all, increasing violence against women. South Asia is one of the most violent regions for women.Our effort is to create consciousness as South Asians for concerns in our region, to forge friendships across borders and support each other in creating a more peaceful South Asia.

This year with the ongoing ONE BILLION RISING CAMPAIGN we would like to invite you to symbolically connect all the on going activities in the different regions on the 30th of November as a mark of solidarity and strength to root out violence in our regions.

 The Program will be held at ‘Bokultola’, Faculty of Fine Arts (Charukola Onushed), Dhaka University. Time: 3.30pm.

This will be followed by a walk for reclaiming the night, with the slogan “‘raater bera bhhangbo, shadhhin bhhabey cholbo”

It is important as South Asians to come together, to express our solidarity and raise our voices against injustice and for peace, justice, human rights and democracy.

Every year, men and women of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma India, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Tibet gather to speak in one firm voice about the need to reinforce democracy, peace, human rights and dialogue in the region. This year let us all rise together in solidarity for a safer world for women and girls.

We mark this day every year to raise the voices of South Asian women. to express solidarity and demand for a violence free world.

 
 ImageOn Behalf of Sangat

Peace is possible. If we Think it. Plan it. Do it.

Silent Screams: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Tamanna Hossain

We live in a culture where sexual violence is only addressed obscurely, through so many layers of euphemisms that one is hard pressed to convey any useful information at all. However, while we’re nursing our delicate sensibilities there are real people being abused across the country, silently suffering, without a platform to seek help, a means to understand what is happening to them, or any guidance as to how to heal.It is time to break the silence.

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Survivors of rape or sexual assault have had their personal space profoundly violated, which often leaves them feeling helpless, not entitled to their own bodies or their own lives.

Today we will start by speaking out about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, a common, often debilitating, anxiety disorder that many trauma survivors suffer from. Due to the stigma attached to both sexual assault and psychotherapy in Bangladesh, PTSD often goes undiagnosed and untreated. To make matters worse, survivors who suffer from PTSD often face the additional trauma of being mislabeled as “weak” or “hysteric”.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder many people develop after surviving a traumatic event, such as, rape, torture, war, or a natural disaster.

When faced with danger the body undergoes many biochemical changes to protect itself through a fight-or-flight response. Ideally, the body should revert back to a neutral state once the danger passes. However, this does not happen for trauma survivors with PTSD. They continue to be frightened, stressed, and hyper-aroused even when there is no longer any danger. Untreated, their condition may persist for years, decades, or even a lifetime.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

–          Re-experiencing: Survivors with PTSD often re-experience the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares. Flashbacks are usually triggered by reminders of the assault, such as, the smell of their rapist’ cologne, rape jokes, sexually violent scenes on TV etc.

–          Panic attacks: Reminders of the trauma often trigger panic attacks in survivors. These are episodes of intense anxiety characterized by hyper-ventilation, trembling, nausea, sweating, dizziness, light headedness, or chest pain. Re-experiencing and panic attacks often occur together.

 –          Avoidance: Survivors often stay away from triggering places, objects, or people, feel emotionally numb, disassociate from their surroundings, distance themselves from friends, lose interest in activities they found enjoyable in the past, or have trouble remembering details of their trauma.

 –          Hyper-arousal: Survivors with PTSD usually exhibit symptoms of hyper-arousal, or being in a state of constant vigilance. This is characterized by being easily startled, always feeling stressed, havingregular headaches, suffering from insomnia, sudden weeping, or having angry outbursts. Being in a state of perpetual hyper-arousal can significantly change the survivor’s lifestyle, personality, and relationships with people in their lives.

How can you help someone with PTSD?

Given the patriarchal nature of Bangladeshi society, survivors with PTSD are not only denied treatment but are also faced with secondary traumas, such as, victim-blaming and slut-shaming, which exacerbate their condition. As a friend or relative of a sexual assault survivor you can buffer them from these harmful societal values and guide them towards recovery in the following ways,

–          Encourage them to seek psychiatric help. Professional therapy coupled with medication can go a long way to assuage the effects of PTSD.

–          Listen. Survivors with PTSD  need sympathetic ears since they have to re-experience their trauma on a regular basis via flashbacks and nightmares. However, do not force them to talk. Offer yourself as a compassionate resource, remind them intermittently that you are available, but wait for them to come to you on their own terms.

–          Do not judge. Most survivors of sexual assault suffer from a lot of guilt and shame, which hinder their recovery. It is important that you do not add to this in anyway. In fact, you should actively work to dissipate their guilt by assuring them that, irrespective of what society says, they are not to blame for the assault on them. The full responsibility of sexual assault is always on the perpetrator; even if it is someone they have been sexually involved in the past.

–          During panic attacks, try to give them physical space (unless explicitly told otherwise), so as to not further trigger a reliving of the experience through touch. Offer them cold water, encourage them to take steady breaths and, most importantly, listen. Let them cry, let them talk, let them yell. Wait to give advice till after the attack passes.

–          Help them regain control. Survivors of rape or sexual assault have had their personal space profoundly violated, which often leaves them feeling helpless, not entitled to their own bodies or their own lives. Offer advice, give suggestions, guide them towards healing in the way you think best, but always assure them that, ultimately, what they choose to do is up to them.

This post merely scratches the surface of what Post Traumatic Stress is and how it can be treated but I hope it helps someone somewhere help a loved one who has been hurt. There will be many more posts in the future regarding rape, its ramifications, how it is systematically perpetuated, and what we can do to help. The silence ends here!

Tamanna graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. She is the former president of the Lawrence University chapter of V-Day and is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Tamanna can be contacted at tamanna.thossain@gmail.com

জয় হোক উদ্যমে উত্তরণে শতকোটি জয় হোক নারীবাদ-এর

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নাহিদ সুলতানা

জাতিসংঘের তথ্য অনুযায়ী সারা পৃথিবীর প্রতি ৩ জন নারীর মধ্যে ১ জন নারী ধর্ষণ বা শারীরিক নির্যাতনের শিকার হয়ে থাকে। যার পরিমাণ পৃথিবীতে বসবাসরত শতকোটি নারীর চাইতেও বেশী। বাংলাদেশে প্রতিদিন প্রায় ৪০জন নারী কোননা কোনভাবে সংহিতার শিকার হচ্ছে । (বাংলাদেশ পুলিশের প্রধান কার্যালয়ের তথ্য অনুযায়ী) ।যার মধ্যে এসিড নিক্ষেপ, অপহরণ, ধর্ষণ, ধর্ষণ পরবর্তী হত্যা, পাচার, খুন, যৌতুকের জন্য নির্যাতন, পারিবারিক নির্যাতন, ইভ-টিজ, কন্যা শিশুর প্রতি অবহেলা, বাল্য বিবাহ, কন্যা ভ্রণ হত্যা, নারীশ্রমিকের মজুরি বৈষম্য, নারী-পুরুষের বৈষম্যমূলক অবস্থানসহ আরো বহুধরণের মানসিক ও পাশবিক নির্যাতন অন্যতম। যেহেতু বাংলাদেশে বেশীরভাগ নারী নির্যাতনের ঘটনা নথিভুক্ত করা হয়না, সেহেতু প্রকৃত সংখ্যাটি জানা এখনো আমাদের পক্ষে সম্ভব নয়।

আমার মনে হয় শুধু আমাদের দেশ কেন ?পৃথিবীর যেকোন দেশে ‘‘নারী নির্যাতন”বিষয়টি অতি পরিচিত। সামাজিক আন্দোলন ও নারী আন্দোলনের সাথে যারা যুক্ত, তারা যুগ যুগ ধরে এই নির্যাতন রোধে কাজ করে আসছেন। কোথায়, কিভাবে, আর কেন, এই নারী নির্যাতন হচ্ছে তা বুঝতে চাওয়া হয়েছে। অনুশাসন-নিয়ম-সংস্কার, পুরুষতান্ত্রিক সমাজ ব্যবস্থা, সতীদাহ-বাল্যবিবাহ, বহুবিবাহ, যৌতুক-পণপ্রথা, শিক্ষার অধিকারহীনতা, নারী স্বাধীনতা রোধ -এইসব হীন উপায়ে নারী দমণ ও পীড়ণ হযে আসছে। দিনে দিনে আজ আমরা যেখানে এসে দাঁড়িয়েছি, সেখানে নারীর কিছুকিছু অধিকার অর্জিত হলেও সবাই তা ভোগ করতে পারছেনা। সাধারণ মানুষ আর সকল অধিকারের মতো তাই নারীর অধিকার বিষয়ে ধীরে ধীরে সচেতন হচ্ছে। তবে তারই পাশাপাশি বিরূদ্ধ-শক্তিও রুখে দাঁড়াচ্ছে বারবার। হরণ করছে নারীর অধিকার। ফতোয়া দিয়ে নৃশংসভাবে নারীহত্যা আজও তাই চলছে।

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