Monday, June 29


So I went to this quiz yesterday. The team came second. I was invited by Salil my friend who has just written a book on Bangladesh and in particular the killing of sheikh mujibur in 1974. So the quiz was for raising money so that this team can help make a documentary on the birangonas. An estimated 200000-400000 women were raped by the razakars and Pakistani army during the operation searchlight and then the war of independence in 1971.
These poor women were damaged twice. First by the Pakistani soldiers and razakars first. And then second by their Bangladeshi men and society who shunned them, abandoned them, murdered them. About 50000 women were forcibly impregnated. I met with an old Australian doctor who carried out late term abortions on these women. If they had given birth to children of their rapists, then the child would have been killed along with the mother or would've gone through pain.
The women suffer silently. They don't have a channel to express their grief. Nor does the society care. For them they are a reminder of their fragility and weakness and honour. And now, 44 years later, they are dying off. Without their stories being told.
So what these 4 women are doing is to make a documentary on them to show off their stories and try to change society. An extraordinary mission
Just 4 women. Came together and decided to do something. That's what I like. People who DO. Not just talk about it. Or press the like button on Facebook. Oh and sheikh mujibur named them birangonas. War women. Aptly named.
So I've offered my help with fundraising or photography or historical research but looks like they are well covered in that area. So let's see how I can help. But it was an amazing evening son. Seriously affected me.
There was one photograph in particular about a birangona. She was holding a rifle in one hand, a baby in her arms and a small child was holding on to her Aanchal. She was silhouetted against the sky. A black and white photo. Looking off into the direction of where the soldiers had gone. And that was a punch in the gut. She was woman. Who fought to protect her kids. And got raped. And would be abandoned by her husband. But if you want to think of raw courage that's it son. For her to keep loving her kids, living in abject poverty, but in silence. Now there is courage for you.
Anyway. I came out and went for a walk along the 10pm night time next to the Thames. The tide was in and the lights of the O2 and other areas were glimmering on the wind swept surface of the river. Curious son curious. Events of nearly 50 years back and echoing across all those years and so many kilometres.
Made many new friends and a new avenue to explore and learn.

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