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 Volume 3 | Issue 24 | June 19, 2011 |


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Voicing Out

Beyond Education:
Students Protest Violence

Rakibul Hasan

Respecting women and their rights is a concept still difficult for many people to understand. Bangladesh is one of the top ranking countries in the world in terms of violence against women, especially domestic violence. It does not matter whether a woman is educated, is from an elite family, or is poor; thousands of women across the country get abused inside their own homes.

Students and academicians call out for justice in the DU campus. Photo credit: Elias M Dipu

The recent case of an assistant professor of University of Dhaka (DU) being physically assaulted by her husband, who is also highly educated enraged and shocked the society, not to mention the campus students and professors all over Bangladesh. Rumana Monjur, a faculty member of the Department of International Relations (IR), DU, was assaulted by her husband, Syeed Hasan Sumon on June 5, 2011, while staying at her parents' residence in Dhanmondi. Sumon, a graduate from Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) beat up his wife severely as he was furious about her decision to go abroad for further studies. Rumana is now critically injured and is going through medical treatment. According to doctors, Rumana's left eye has been completely damaged after Sumon ruthlessly put his finger into her eyes.

The news of harassment to their favourite 'Rumana madam' left the students of the IR Department at DU shocked and completely broken. For a student, a teacher is a guide who helps a young student express his or her thoughts out into the world. A student learns to fight for what is right from a teacher, not to mention, learning to accept the differences in people in society and respecting them. When their teacher was the one whose rights were violated and was almost killed only because of expressing her thoughts and opting for a higher form of education, it was more than they could bear with. Students came up with protest groups on social networking sites like Facebook and with the desperate urge in them to ensure justice to their teacher, they, along with other teachers of the IR Department, organised a silent rally on June 14, 2011. With a huge number of participants, the procession walked around the DU campus and then gathered up in front of the Aparajayo Bangla. Teachers and students carried placards bearing their demands of exemplary punishment for the culprit.

With a huge number of participants, the procession walked around the DU campus and then gathered up in front of the Aparajayo Bangla. Photo credit: Elias M Dipu

Later on the Dhaka University Teacher's Association organised a human chain in the same venue. The participants at the human chain voiced their demands to bring the culprit to justice and to ensure the security of Rumana Monjur's family. Teachers and students from all the departments of Dhaka University participated it the human chain including Professor Fariduddin Ahmed, Dean of Faculty of Social Science, DU and Professor Anwar Hussein, President of Dhaka University Teacher's Association.

Commenting on the objectives of the protest, Hasan Mahmud, a participant at the human chain says, “Through these protests we want to achieve the beginning of the end to violence against women. We have raised three ultimatums from our protests and they were arresting the culprit within twenty four hours, ensuring the safety of her parents and daughter and providing all kinds of assistance to her by the government and DU authority, so that she can get the best possible medical treatment available.”

Ashequa Irshad, an Associate Professor at Department of International Relations says, “Women from any part of our society are vulnerable to domestic violence. To really put a stop to domestic violence against women, we need to strengthen the social institutions of our society and have to learn to treat all people with respect, irrespective of their gender.”

As this feature is written, news flows in about Syeed Hasan Sumon arrest. Rumana Mojur has flown to India with her family members for medical treatment.

Despite Rumana and her ruthless husband both belonging to the educated segment of society, the brutality against Rumana shows that the chauvinist males still think of women as mere objects. Until and unless we can bring a change to our social mindset, crimes against women will continue. To really eradicate these sporadic acts of violence, there is no other option than to empowering women and also to have men become more open to new ideas and changing their age-old attitudes towards women.



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