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Human chains in Dhaka as part of global movement
Publication Date : 15-02-2013
Thousands of people across Bangladesh's capital took to the streets yesterday in a show of protest against violence against women.
With loud chants of “Silence about violence...no more, no more!” and “Fear and oppression...no more, no more!”, people from all walks of life formed human chains in over 34 locations in Dhaka.
More than 384 supporting organisations, representing diverse stakeholders, organised the demonstrations under a common platform, One Billion Rising (OBR), a global movement to end violence against women.
At least 5,000 people joined the demonstration in one location alone in Mohakhali. Another 3,000 formed a human chain from the Shooting Complex to Gulshan 1, while 4,000 people held hands to form another chain from Gulshan 1 to 2.
The longest one was formed from Mirpur to Asad Gate moving up to the parliament building, where lawmakers joined the human chain in solidarity with the movement.
In all 64 districts, demonstrations and rallies were held with the participation of school children, theatre groups, local body representatives and grassroots activists.
Bangladesh is among the 197 countries that organised anti-violence demonstrations on February 14.
The goal of One Billion Rising was to have 1 billion women and men rise for change all over the world. The name was chosen because, according to UN statistics, at least a billion women worldwide will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno, a human rights foundation, said, “This is the first time that the whole world is standing up to protest violence against women.”
“It is an unprecedented show of solidarity.”
Bangladesh theatre personality Sara Zaker said, “A unified movement is necessary to change the way we are, how society is.”
Society needs to challenge patriarchal mindsets, myths and misconceptions, she said.
In addition to the nationwide programme, a cultural festival titled protibad kori, protirodh gori was held at Shilpakala Academy at 3:00pm.
Paying tribute to women across Bangladesh, the festival showcased different forms of art, dance, skits, recitations, music, and screenings.
Endorsements by BRAC University Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and educationist Muhammad Zafar Iqbal were showcased at the event.
Prof Yunus said a country and a society cannot claim it to be civilised if it continues to accept violence against women. He highlighted the need for a unified movement to address the issue urgently and hoped that the OBR would be a platform to do so.
Dr Abed said violence against women is violence against humankind. “It must not be tolerated any longer.”
Alongside the rest of the world, the participants and organisers pledged to strike at the core of violence and rise against patriarchy and every force that limits women and their freedom.
The participation of men in the demonstrations was noticeable. Many of them said the struggle against gender-based violence was their movement, too, and that men from all sections of society have to play an active part to challenge male chauvinism.
“We cannot make progress by dominating our female counterparts. We have to make people aware that we [men] are not above women,” said, Rafiul Hasan, a student of BRAC University.
Fuad H Mallick, pro-vice chancellor of BRAC University, said, “Since it is the pressing need, gender studies should be included in the curriculum from primary level.”