Pamelia Khaled and Sriya Islam: Here we discuss of a 5 year old Saudi Arabian and an adult Bangladeshi girl’s social relations, how these two societies are insensitive and gendered and how each society recognizes a girl and her sexual orientation followed by the mediaeval barbaric Sharia law of whipping and traditional way of beating by caning, lashing, gauging, strangling and raping; though, in 1971 Bangladesh was born as a secular society with a promise of modernization of society.
A sadist Saudi Father Fayhan al-Ghamdi was accused of raping, torturing and killing his five-year-old daughter in 2013. According to the campaign group Women to Drive, The preacher , who is considered a celebrity in Saudi Arabia and often appears on Saudi television , admitted he used a cane and cables to inflict the injuries after doubting his five year-old daughter’s virginity. She was taken to a doctor, but Baby girl Lama died ten months later.
Al-Ghamdi’s daughter Lama suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns on her body. According to Al-Ghamdi, he suspected his daughter had lost her virginity and that’s why he had tortured her using chains and raping repeatedly. The 5 years old daughter had beaten and molested by a father who was a great social media preacher of Islam in Saudi Arabia. A bizarre law Saudi Arabia hands out regarding the sentences of capital punishment. “Fathers cannot be executed for murdering their children in the country, same about wife murdering a husband cannot be executed” Women to Drive said.
Unfortunately, for this severe crime, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes in 2013. He has been released from custody after agreeing to pay “blood money”. Al-Ghamdi served only a few months in jail before a judge ruled the prosecution could only seek blood money.
However, the court ordered Al-Ghamdi to pay the girl’s mother, one million riyals ($270,000) in “blood money” only. The money is considered compensation under Saudi Arabian Islamic law, irony is that it is only half the amount that would have been paid if Lama had been a boy.
On the other hand, gender discrimination in Bangladesh begins since a child born. Lower income and middle income society wants to have 5-7 children, especially male, so that they can supplement their family income. There is no concern having children yearly, for a wish of a male child, girl’s physical health go down quickly. A boy is considered as a valuable child whereas a girl is meant to be a trouble maker and as if she is a loss item for most of the parents. A mother usually listen indignation due to give birth a female child. A baby girl’s birth news seems a resentment as sin towards parents especially to a father. But most of the men still do not know the scientific explanation of how a female child born. A man is the only one who is responsible for a birth of female child that knowledge is quite absent for the lack of education and awareness. .
Women are born from the ribs of man, which is believed by many, who have faith in religions. According to the “creation from ribs” theory, menare supposed to love women. But it turned to opposite, ignorant men are disrespecting and hitting women as if they are hitting their own selves.
Women are used to hear that a man is stronger and knowledgeable than a woman. But it doesn’t match in all cases. Men are welcomed to a family as because they are able to earn money in a traditional conservative society whereas girl faces barriers in education and employment.Why? Can’t they earn money? Are they weaker? Or it is a fact that she is not allowed to do so.
Girls are largely born to an unwelcomed, traditional social world with a thought of providers, serving men warm food and solace at home. Girls are supposed to do all house hold chores including feeding mother’s young child, assisting in cooking etc.In return men show their angry face and musclesif anything is not rightly done. Girls are abandoned and unprivileged this is a common picture in most of the society and the above picture is a common scene for a girl in Bangladesh.
Youngster tease girls and use slang freely in the street. But helpless girls try to ignore thinking it is good and safe for them. In Bangladesh women feel afraid to go outside alone at evening or early morning. We wonder who will stop these occurrences and injustice.
Girls are so helpless, they can’t tell their sufferings to their parents even as they might be abused instead of comfort. Since the childhood everyone caution girls to be careful in their each steps lest they might not show their face in front of the so called religious society.
In terms of religion societal change is visible in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi society is turning to a puritan society gradually. People are following so called ideology of Salafism or Wahabism and Jamat. For that reason, people of other religious sect afraid to talk, and stay away of conservative Muslims. The puritan Muslims are making girls’ lives more complicated such as women should not go outside of home, they should not talk to cousins or show their face to outsiders or they shouldn’t go another city for study, they should married early as soon as possible, their only job is to take care of their husband etc.
Thus girls are neither welcomed in their parent’s house nor in their husband’s house in lower income and middle income family. They are not interested to see girl’s education and independency rather they want to see girls are ready to sacrifice their entire life giving birth and taking care of the family.
Because they were pursuing further education, two women were mercilessly physically assaulted by their husbands in Bangladesh not long ago. Romana Manjur, who was studying in Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Canada, was pinned to a bed in a fit of bestial rage by her so-called educated husband, who gouged her eyes out with his fingers and bit off part of Romana’s nose. The poor woman had gone to Bangladesh to visit her daughter and husband. The other woman Hawa Akhter, 21, was tied up, with tape glued to her mouth. Then her husband chopped off the five fingers of her right hand. The man was a Bangladeshi migrant worker. He became furious as he came to know that his wife had started studying for a college degree without his permission. “The attack is the latest in a series of gruesome acts of domestic violence targeting educated women in Muslim-majority Bangladesh,” AFP reported.
The above story of Romana Manjur’s a few years back by Pamelia Khaled. Today we heard Romana’s story from her own voice in YouTube. It gives us a tremble, as if we are in pain and shivered in the damp foggy cold thinking she went through and the courage she has shown this far .Those heinous crime was committed by her ex-husband is an illustration of loss of morality, ruthlessness, cruelty and lost essence of humanity. No matter how much progress has been achieved in Bangladesh in gender equity or this global world, these type of incidents will always pull down humankind and its history. No moral education can alter these treacherous acts on women until human being are taught the meaning of love at the first place.
We consider that the current education system must include to teach our children how to love; the foremost should be compassion and the ability to empathize. Children learn from the actions of the people around them engraving such qualities to be mindful, which is transformative education. Thus it is important to teach a transformative education that have such ideal developing soul/self in human beings. It has ability to teach subtly children message of love and empathy in schools, in communities, in work, in any social spaces.
The above stories certainly appear that we do have a lack of them in this egotistic, religiously blind reign. Many aspects need to be re-visited if such crimes are to come to a halt at a national and international level as sufferings and subordination of women is universal.
We wonder may be soon Bangladesh will turn to Saudi Arabia, a mediaeval society where a baby girl is raped and tortured by a TV preacher, so called father. While we are talking about gender parity and transformative education from a gender-perspective angle in Bangladesh, how these two stories fit in there leads to a quandary. Bangladesh has entered 2015. Although there are legal provisions on violence against women, there are no signs of social and family justice and democracy in Bangladeshi women’s lives. There is a serious lack of statistics on this issue, because most of the violence cases are not reported to police; the bitter truth is, the majority of women in Bangladesh (both rural and urban) are stuck in a cycle of violence — they are sexually harassed and socially persecuted in many ways. There are no indications of policy reform to prevent this violence and establish justice for women in Bangladesh.
Woman in Bangladesh and across the world need to come forward, they need to move forward for changes their position at home and their social status. Arise woman, arise and raise your voice; use your power and become agency.Let’s start your journey and change everything.
Pamelia Khaled is a Doctoral candidate, Faculty of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. Email: [email protected]
Sriya Islam, Faculty of English department, Daffodil University, Dhaka.