Make picture uproar a possibility for change in Bangladesh (opinion)


It isn’t that younger individuals kissing on a college campus is all that uncommon, particularly within the capital, Dhaka. What’s uncommon is that it was photographed and the picture went viral. Conservative and spiritual quarters take into account public shows of affection to be a nasty affect from the West, too brazen to be acceptable in a reasonable Muslim nation. Youthful and extra liberal Bangladeshis, nonetheless, have responded on social media in support of the photo and condemned the assault on the photographer.
It is essential to grasp that Bangladeshi tradition is a commingling of a deeply conventional South Asian heritage and a non secular conservatism which is unfortunately on the rise. Within the cultural divide between the liberal, progressive, and secular and the normal, conservative, and spiritual, the usually explosive fault lines make it clear that the younger nation continues to be within the means of determining its identification and values.
Nevertheless, a second of a consensual affection being attacked as being immoral or culturally offensive is particularly hypocritical in a tradition the place on a regular basis sexual harassment is so frequent that it is euphemistically known as “Eve-teasing,” as if it had been merely playful and innocent. What ought to offend Bangladeshis is the on a regular basis sexual harassment on streets, buses, and public areas; in workplaces and marketplaces; in slums and in company places of work. What ought to be known as immoral is girls tortured or killed for dowry; underage ladies pressured into marriage towards their will; sexual assault and rape; stalking, intimidation, and revenge porn; and younger girls having their faces completely disfigured by acid for rejecting undesirable advances. It is mind-boggling what number of ladies and younger girls in Bangladesh commit suicide yearly on account of these crimes.
Much more appalling is the pervasiveness of violence suffered by girls even inside their very own houses. A report submitted to the UN by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics studies that 87% of married girls in Bangladesh have skilled marital violence, with 67% reporting bodily and/or sexual violence, 53% financial violence, and 82% psychological violence. That is particularly surprising in a rustic that has had feminine management for the final 27 years. The each day assault on girls’s bodily and psychological integrity is a trauma not solely on the stage of the person psyche, however the additionally on the stage of household, society, and nation.
It isn’t that Bangladesh is not attempting. Laws have been enacted and a special tribunal set as much as cope with violence towards girls. However change is at all times sluggish, and cultural norms stay entrenched in a standard, patriarchal, and religiously conservative system of values. Violence towards girls does not occur in a vacuum — it is the tradition and the social system that’s sadly nonetheless very misogynistic.

The {photograph}, alternatively, is a stark distinction to the deeply embedded misogyny of our tradition and must be positioned in that context for its significance to be understood.

The image captures a second of real intimacy — affection that’s respectful, mutual, and consenting. It’s clear from the couple’s physique language that there is no such thing as a pressure, coercion, or any trace of violence. They’re leaning in the direction of one another, indicating mutual want and consensual intimacy, not male aggression and feminine submission. The younger man’s arms are resting on his knees, not enveloping or possessing the thing of his want. That the younger girl’s consent was given freely is obvious from her proper arm resting comfortably on his knee. The photographer was equally respectful: the image was taken with their knowledge and consent, and printed with their permission.

In different phrases, it is a image that could possibly be used to coach younger Bangladeshis about how relationships between women and men ought to be — respectful, consensual, and mutual. That is exactly the antidote we have to the misogyny that plagues our tradition. It’s a teachable second.

The photographer, Jibon Ahmed, along with being crushed and fired from his job, has expressed concern for his own safety following the furor brought on by the picture. It’s ironic, but in addition deeply symbolic, that the photographer’s identify is Jibon, which implies “life” in Bengali, from Sanskrit jivana, “life, existence; quickening, animating; restoring to life.”

It’s life and love which can be threatened in Bangladesh. It’s as much as us to decide on the route wherein we need to lead our nation.

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