16 Days of Activism campaign: Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Liberation War resulted from the Bengali nationalist movement. Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) fought for its independence from Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) in 1971 in a war that continued for 9 months in response to economic exploitation, religious and language differences and political deprivation leading to an effort of the East to assert its right to self-determination.
Exact numbers of rape vary, estimates range from 200.000 to 400.000. Rape during the war has been described as ‘ethnically motivated,’ as both Bengalis and Hindus were targeted specifically.
“Birangona,” was the title the state gave to women who experienced sexual violence during the war; some translate this term as ‘war-heroine.” The stigma of rape and the collective shame attached to it was so appalling that it was never spoken of in public. So the plight of those women went untold and they were subsequently hidden, silenced, ostracized and then almost forgotten. The year ’71 is seen as a forgotten genocide of the 20th century; these sufferings too must be remembered and documented.
Women have been fighting the stigma, however, and finding their own ways of expression and healing. One way has been through song and dance, as depicted in this video. Rajubala, who performs regularly, is singing and dancing, finding solace in her journey.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign 2017:
During the international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, we are helping spread the message of survivors of sexual violence in conflict zones worldwide. They are members of a growing global movement to fight the use of rape as a weapon of war.
25 November: Statement by Dr Denis Mukwege
27 November: Message from Iraq
28 November: Call for support from Colombia
30 November: A letter to the rapist from Congo