Fifty years after independence, Bangladeshi women are still considered second-class citizens, regardless of their religion or social class. This state of affairs is not linked to numbers, but to power. These are the questions placed at the center of Beshya O Bidushir Golpo (Hasan’s, 2021), a collection of essays written by poet, essayist and gender and media scholar, Afroja Shoma. The book was released on Ekushey Boi Mela 2021.
A discussion session regarding the book took place at the capital’s Bishwa Shahitto Kendro on Friday, August 26, sparking conversations between writer, researcher and policy analyst Mohiuddin Ahmed; writer-translator and journalist Rowshan J Chowdhury; poet and editor of the literary magazine, Lok, Aniket Shamim; poet and fiction writer Mujtaba Ahmed Murshed; poet and journalist Jewel Mostafiz; and fiction writer Bakibillah.
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In order to change social mindsets and attitudes, the author believes in reaching out to the larger population of society. Beshya O Bidushir Golpo will play an important role in spreading the message of change to the urban population. However, she believes that more thought needs to be given to how to convey these ideas for change to rural and marginalized populations.
“Beshya O Bidushir Golpo portrayed the fact that the character and identity of women and men are primarily created by socio-economic and cultural practices existing in society,” Rowshan J Chowdhury said at the event.
Poet Jewel Mostafiz shared that the book contains significant research into the type of language used by mainstream media to report on rape, torture and abuse of women. Newspapers are not gender-sensitive, the poet said. Shoma’s book may be an important text for those working in the country’s media.
Writer Mujtaba Ahmed Murshed pointed out that the book highlights how masculinity imprisons not only women but also men.
The book contains a total of four chapters and 27 essays.
How far have we achieved women’s liberation half a century after Bangladesh’s independence? How are women still treated like second-class citizens in this country? What is the state’s responsibility behind women’s “minority status” as a marginalized gender? How does the language of reporting on rape and violence against women in the Bangladeshi media perpetuate the intolerance and insensitivity that exists towards women? How has this patriarchal social system chained even men? Afroza Shoma’s book of essays examines these pressing questions.
The book is available for sale on Rokomari.