Bangladesh: Testimony of 24 year old Survivor Morium Begum, Her Right Arm was Amputated #Vaw

MAY 6, 2013  |

Death Toll Reaches 665 at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh

The death toll at the Rana Plaza building has reached 665 as of Monday morning U.S. Eastern Time.  To date, less than 50 percent of the rubble from the collapsed building has been removed—meaning that many more bodies are likely to be recovered.

The stench of death is everywhere.  Many bodies are decomposed beyond recognition and workers are being identified through their ID cards and clothing.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is now admitting they did not have a comprehensive list of the workers in the five factories housed in the Rana Plaza building.  Now, no one knows how many workers were in the building when it collapsed.


Testimony of Ms. Morium Begum

“It is because of the ugly greed of the owners who forced us to work on April 24, forcing us into death at Rana Plaza. We demand justice as so many lives have been lost and so many others seriously injured and maimed. I wish it never happens again!

“How will I be able to bring up my kids? How will I buy food for them? How will they go to school?”

“I worked as a sewing operator for three years at the New Wave Style factoryon the 7th floor of the Rana Plaza building. The building had developed cracks and we were scared that it might break apart. But we were forced to enter the factory as they [management] threatened to withhold our wages [for the full month] if we didn’t work that day. Just after an hour, the factory caved in with a loud bang. It collapsed as heavy generators shook the floor. I was sitting on a stool sewing the garments. In a few seconds everything broke apart and my sewing machine fell on my right arm. Immediately a big slab from a concrete pillar fell on the machine and my arm. My right arm was crushed and trapped between the sewing machine and the concrete pillar. I tried to pull my arm out but I couldn’t. It was dark inside. Many of my co-workers were also trapped and screaming out, calling for Allah to save our lives. I had no idea where I was after the collapse.


“The rescue team pulled me out of the ruins at 8:30 a.m. on April 25, after spending 24 hours in a living grave. The medical team took me to the Combined Military Hospital at SavarThe doctor amputated my right arm at 8:30 p.m. on April 25. I was in a great deal of pain. I was shifted to the orthopedic hospital on that same day due to complications. I have been at the hospital since then. I still have pain where the concrete pillar hit me.

“It is clear that I will not be able to lead a normal life. How will I be able to bring up my kids? How will I buy food for them? How will they go to school? My daughter is in the third grade and my son in nursery school. They will have to stop their education as I won’t be able to afford to send them to school.

“Who is to blame for this cursed life? My hands were always busy sewing garments but now it all comes to an end. Everything has stopped. I never imagined such a tragedy. My life is worthless now. It is because of the ugly greed of the owners who forced us to work on April 24, forcing us into death at Rana Plaza. We demand justice as so many lives have been lost and so many others seriously injured and maimed. I wish it never happens again!”



Women are not outsiders in Dargahs #discrimination #Religion

Syeda Hameed | November 10, 2012, Times Crest



MYTH MAKING: 'La ikra fiddin', the revolutionary Quranic verse, says that there is no compulsion in religion

Men and women perform the ‘tawaaf‘ together at the Kaaba during Haj. Why then is there a debate over women’s rights to worship in the sanctum of dargahs?

The issue of women not being allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum in dargahs is nothing new. It has been raised over ages in many parts of the world. But it is now time it is challenged and challenged on the very ground on which it has been imposed.

I have been turned away from the astana many times. The simplest question to ask is this: would the Sufi saints whose remains are buried in the astana and whose creed embraced all regardless of caste, creed, sex or even religion, ever condone that a woman is forbidden to recite the Fatiha at their grave? The answer is a resounding ‘No’.

The fact that Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has raised this issue with widespread political support is commendable. If you want to be enlightened about the spirit of Islam, dear reader, read on. If your mind is closed, stop here.
My study of the Quran the Sunnah and the Hadith has given me the confidence to claim before the world that Islam gives equal rights and status to women along with men. In pre-Islamic Arabia there was a time when the birth of a girl brought such shame that the child was placed in her living grave. This practice was prevalent then and is not unknown today in many other forms. At that time the new religion which was revealed (Islam), gave property rights to women and girls. Here begins the story of a woman’s place in Islam;a story that the gatekeepers and so-called custodians of Islam continuously abuse by issuing false and damaging fatwas. These are placed on a religion that was the first to require that women when they earn, have a right to spend their earning as they wish. How many of these custodians of Islam even know this? And how cleverly those who do know it, conceal it.

Gyanvapi Masjid in Varansi, Hazratbal in Sirinagar, Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, Kalyar Sharif in Roorkee, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer;are a few dargahs that have restrained my movements. In Srinagar I was with a group of women of all faiths. When we were prevented from entering the shrine and asked to do the tawaaf (circumabulation) ‘outside’, I protested before the guards. I asked my host family, who are among the most respected, devout people in Kashmir, why this happened. They were shocked;they had never heard of these restrictions.

The arguments raised by those who support the Mumbai shrines’ establishment – that the Sharia forbids men and women from performing rites together – negates the very basis of Haj where lakhs of men and women perform the tawaaf of the Kaaba together. They have strict instructions that when they tie their Ahraam they must leave their faces uncovered. The Ahraam is like a shroud;clothed in that one piece of garment, women and men stand equal in the eyes of God. Again, the Islamic injunction for modesty in dress, applies equally to men and women. Ayats in the Quran are clear. If men are permitted to give talaq women are free to give khula, I could go on quoting Surahs after Surahs.

During the life of the Prophet, women were free to enter mosques and question the Prophet on Quranic revelations. It was the query of his wife Umm Salama which resulted in the revelation of Surah Al Nisa, the second longest Surah of the Quran, elaborating on the rights, responsibilities, and defining the dignity of women.
The important fact which is conveniently forgotten by most patriarchs is that unlike Christianity, Islam has no organised church, no Pope, no religious head. Islam is the world’s last revealed religion. The Quran says that 1, 24, 000 prophets preceded Prophet Mohammad. But post-Islam there is no ‘guide’ for the Ummah. The Quran therefore makes the momentous statement that Allah is closer than you shehrug (jugular vein).

Therefore, as Mualana Abul Kalam Azad has said in his monumental work Tarjumanul Quran, human beings are asked to understand the religion and its injunctions according to their “own light”. With this clear direction given by the Quran, many sects, and many schools of jurisprudence came into being;each one interpreting its tenets in its own way. People were free to choose any or go their own way. Where is the place here for dictatorial muftis? La ikra fiddin is the revolutionary Quranic verse: there is no compulsion in religion.

I should have spoken up much earlier in defence of Islam which is endangered by false interpretations. To confuse archaic traditions with the religion itself is to do it huge disservice. I would rather join my voice with the poet Ghalib who has written: Hum muhid hain aur hamara kaish hai tar e rusm (We are believers in One Allah and our creed is to reject customs). 

The author is a human rights activist and member of the Planning Commission

Sexuality and freedom of speech #censorship

M. Najibur Rohman, Semarang | Thu, 05/10/2012 , The Jakarta Post

The involuntary dissolution of Irshad Manji’s book launch in Salihara Cultural Center last week is representation of the tyranny of conservative groups that suppresses freedom of speech.

Indeed, as Muslim liberal activist Manji who wrote a book titled Allah, Liberty and Love, has been known as pro-contra a thinker as well as a lesbian. It seems Manji’s sexual identity was the primary motive for the protesters to deny her speech regardless of the essence of the discussion.

In this case, first of all, we have to make a difference between the private and public domain. Sexual orientation as well as faith or religion is a private domain. Everyone has this right and of course the state bears the responsibility for protection of the right.

Second, a discussion forum is an academic area that should remain free from “moral judgment”. Here, the most important thing is brains, not muscle.

The disparity between the notions deserves a wide space for anyone without considering sexual orientation. There is no reason for certain groups — including hard-line religious activists — to disperse or ban an academic forum by use of threat or derision.

The threat targeting Manji’s book discussion should prompt the state, in this case the National Police, to provide protection and security. It is clear that such discussion, characterized by academic and open-ended dialogue, is not intended to generate social anxiety.

Nevertheless, the police, citing the absence of permit and potential for disruption — based on the law — dispersed the discussion and therefore hurt freedom of speech.

Sexuality has long invited many thinkers and scholars to start discussions and debates. For certain members of the Indonesian public, especially those in the Muslim majority, homosexuality is seen as a violation of norms and rules of the religion.

The tale of Prophet Luth suggests homosexuality is a prohibited sexual orientation. But such conclusion, although in the mainstream, is just one of many exegesis of the Koran.

On the other hand, the discourse of sexuality actually is a part of social, political and ideological construction. Sex is related with history-knowledge-language and all of them are directed to body control.

Therefore, in a democracy like Indonesia there should be no discriminatory treatment for people based on their sexual orientation. Heterosexual and homosexual have the same position to exercise freedom of speech. Equality, a primary principle of the law, must be interpreted as the state’s way to protect human rights and guarantee their implementation.

In addition, violence is the chief nemesis of true democracy. It is time for the state to resist any kinds of acts that discredit the minorities and set up “religious oligarchy”. Here, dialogue is the best way to express an opinion. Disagreement is justified but must not be translated in the use of violence.

The writer teaches at Walisongo State Islamic Institute, Semarang.


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