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Bangladesh: Dhaka Women’s Rally Against Demands by Fundamentalists of Hefajat-e Islam - Selected News Reports

12 May 2013

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New Age - 12 May 2013

Women call for halt to religion-based politics
Staff Correspondent

Women from all walks of life join a rally in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday, demanding protection of rights of all citizens, irrespective of gender, race or faith.


Women from all walks of life join a rally in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday, demanding protection of rights of all citizens, irrespective of gender, race or faith. — Indrajit Ghosh

Thousands of women rallied in the capital on Saturday raising their voice against the ‘evil designs of fanatic and communal forces’ and demanding a law to stop use of religion in politics for protection of the rights of all citizens, irrespective of gender, race and faith.
Women from all walks of life joined the rally in front of the National Press Club and asked the government to take a clear stand against the evil forces for the sake of women’s development and protecting constitutional rights of women.
They also called for forging a unity of all democratic and progressive forces for building up a non-communal and democratic Bangladesh free from gender disparity.
The platform of more than 100 women’s, socio-cultural and non-government bodies organised the rally under the banner of Pratibadi Nari Ganasamabesh in protest at the 13-point demand of Hefajat-e-Islam which they termed anti-women.
Hefajat’s demands, including repeal of the education policy and the women development policy, enactment of an anti-blasphemy law and a ban on free-mixing of men and women, have triggered protests from various quarters, including women.
The rally was scheduled for April 27 and it was shifted to May 9 after the Rana Plaza collapse. Later it was rescheduled for May 11 due to hartals enforced by opposition parties.
The women’s 10-point demand includes putting an end to all conspiracies against the spirit of the liberation war and the 1972 constitution and establishment of women’s rights, legal action against the organisations and individuals who want to curb women’s rights with ill political motive.
The 10-point demand also includes implementation of the women development policy and national and international charters which upheld women’s rights, a ban on use of religion in politics and restoration of non-communal spirit in line with the 1972 constitution.
The women’s rally called for an end to repression and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, all types of violence against women, exemplary punishment of the killers of workers in the Rana Plaza collapse and other factory accidents, compensation for workers and capital punishment for all war criminals.
Human rights activists Sultana Kamal, politicians Shirin Akhter, Lakhhi Chakrabarty, Hajera Sultana, Ashrafunnessa Mosarraf, women leaders Khusi Kabir and Rokeya Kabir, Dhaka University teacher Giti Ara Nasreen, vocalist Mita Haque, workers’ leaders Najma Akhter, lawyer Tureen Afroj, poet Kazi Rozi, garments worker Lovely Yasmin, farmer Rebeka Soren and others spoke at the rally.
Dhaka University vice-chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddque and Shahbagh protest leader Imran H Sarkar spoke at the programme.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanom chaired the rally.
Ayesha said Hefajat-e-Islam was an offshoot of Jamaat-e- Islami and they were plotting to keep women in shackles when they were making significant contributions to the country’s economy and development.
She urged politicians not to use those who traded in religion in the name of ‘voting equation’.
Sultana Kamal said women should take a united stance against all kinds of repression on them. She demanded cancellation of anti-women and anti-people provisions in the constitution.
Khushi Kabir urged all to unite and resist the evil forces like Hefajat and Jamaat and build up a strong movement against the Islamists’ anti-women demands.
Shirin Akhter said religion was being used in power politics. She urged the countrymen to thwart the conspiracies against women.
Speakers at the rally termed Hefajat an ally of Jamaat and said that its 13-point demand was against the spirit of the liberation war, women’s advancement and against freedom of thought.
They rejected the 13-point demand terming it anti-constitutional and called upon the people to build up a social resistance against the ‘evil forces’.
Hefajat-e Islam appeared just when the war crimes trials were entering the decisive stage. They are trying to victimise women and remove them from the path of progress, the speakers said.
The rally began at about 3:20pm with the singing of the national anthem. Udichi Shilpi Gosthi and Bohnishikha presented patriotic songs.

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The Daily Star, May 12, 2013

Gender equal Bangladesh
Demand women’s organisations, raise voice against Hefajat demands

Staff Correspondent

Women of all walks of life hold a protest rally before the Jatiya Press Club in the capital yesterday demanding a secular Bangladesh with gender equity. Various social and cultural bodies organised the rally. Photo: Palash Khan

Women of all strata at a protest rally yesterday vowed to resist every ill-attempt of fundamentalists and communal forces to impede women empowerment and contain their progress and rights.
The rally was jointly organised by different social, cultural and non-government organisations in front of the national press club in the capital demanding “Non-communal, democratic and gender-equal Bangladesh”.
Several thousand women attended the rally.
The speakers of the gathering said Hefajat-e Islam through its 13-point demand wanted to keep women confined and curb their rights to push the country back to the medieval age.
Eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal urged all women to build strong resistance from their own grounds against communalism and fundamentalism.
She said women had made outstandingly contribution to the country’s economic, social and political progress. She urged the government to amend the provisions in the constitution that are against women’s rights.
Charing the rally, women leader Ayesha Khanom asked all political parties, especially the main opposition BNP, not to patronise anti-liberation forces and fanatics to secure political gain.
Social activist Khushi Kabir said, “Together, we will have to fight against communal forces in every house, workplace and anywhere they [fundamentalists] would try to retard women development.”
Prosecutor of International Crimes Tribunal Tureen Afroz said the evil force confusing people by misinterpreting Islam should be resisted.
In a declaration, the women leaders placed a 10-point demand that includes taking legal action against those who want to curb women rights, implementation of all national and international charters for women development, restoration of the constitution of 1972, arrangements for compensation and rehabilitation to all victim garment workers and their families, including those of Rana Plaza collapse, and ensuring security to indigenous and religious minorities.
Women leaders Momtaz Begum, Shirin Akhter and Rokeya Kabir, Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, Shaheed Jaya Shyamoli Nasrin Chowdhury, Gonojagoron Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker, among others, spoke at the rally yesterday.

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Financial Express Bangladesh, 12 May 2013

Women leaders demand action against conspirators undermining their contributions

FE Report

Professional women groups demanded Saturday recognition of their contribution to the country’s development and urged the government to take stern action against conspirators trying to undermine these achievements.

They said women’s contribution has been downgraded in the absence of proper action and inadequate constitutional provisions and demanded implementation of their 10-point demand for ensuring women’s rights.

The women leaders from the groups of workers, farmers, lawyers, minority and ethnic communities raised their voices from a mass protest rally in front of the National Press Club yesterday (Saturday).

Under the banner of establishing Bangladesh as a non-communal and democratic country with gender equality, several hundred women joined the rally in the backdrop of a number of tragic incidents of fire and building collapse in which a large number of female workers died.

They also gathered to raise their voice against the 13-point demand of Hefajat-e Islam which includes an end to free mixing of men and women in open place.

Among others, women leaders Sultana Kamal, Ayesha Khanum, Rokeya Kabir, Shirin Akhter, Rebecca Soren, Mita Hoque, Fauzia Khandker Iva, Salma Ali, Geetiara Nasreen, Nazma Akter, Kushi Kabir and Nasimun Ara Haq Minu addressed the rally.

Chairperson of Transparency International, Bangladesh Sultana Kamal blamed the government for not removing anti-women and people sections in the constitution and demanded restoration of the original constitution as per their election pledge to give recognition to women’s contribution to the country.

"This is your (government) moral responsibility to ensure women’s safety and remove anti-people, anti-women sections from the constitution as those still exist in it due to not fulfilling your election pledge," she said

The former caretaker adviser also said Bangladesh has made progress for the contribution of women and their contribution to the country’s politics, society, culture and economy can now be claimed as incomparable with any other countries of the world.

She also made a clarion call to all women to be united against anti-women movement.

Women leader Ayesha Khanum said women have advanced to a level where thousands of women can climb the Everest.

She said religion is for individual but state is for all.

Rokeya Kabir demanded full implementation of the Convention of Elimination of All kinds of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and said all facitilies for women including health, education, wages should be ensured at international standard.

She also called upon the international community to ensure wages of workers at international standard.

The 10-point demand raised from the mass rally includes establishing a non-communal, democratic gender equality society of men and women, full implementation of CEDAW and women development policy, stoppage of all non-communal, anti-human actives, arrest of those involved in creating anarchy in the name of religion, ensuring workplace safety and punishment to the persons guilty of all the tragic incidents in readymade garment factories.