Blogger, rape and refugee: a boat in Bangladesh part 2

Part 1

A Garo girl was gang-raped in Dhaka on her way back home from work a month ago. The incident reminded everyone of the brutal gang rape in Delhi few years back. Also this took place after April 14 incident where women were sexually assaulted during New Year’s celebration. Earlier this month, a female student was allegedly sexually assaulted at a school within Dhaka for which the Vice-principal was relieved of her duties.

The victim, a 22 year student, worked in sales in a mall near Kuril Bus Stand.

The victim told the police that five men forcibly hustled her into the microbus from Kuril Bus stand area of the city around 9:30pm. The ash-colored microbus stopped in front of her and two young men came down from the vehicle, and forced her to get into the bus. They raped her on the moving vehicle for about an hour and a half while the microbus slowly circled the Kuril Biswa Road several times before discarding her at Uttara’s Jashimuddin Road around 11pm.

A case was filed on Friday by the victim’s family after efforts of trying to file a case as two police stations turn them down stating jurisdictive limitation.

Violence against women, including latest police brutality in Bangladesh has caught much social media attention. Protesters on May 10 marched towards the police headquarter in a recent demonstration against sexual assault on New Year but were physically abused by Police injuring University students and activists. Anyone is yet to be arrested for New Year’s incident though police recently released CCTV footage for information regarding the offenders with rewards.

Now, a recent study has found that 82 percent of rape victims are under the age of 20 as I quote Daily Star,

Many of them minors. More than half of the victims were schoolgirls who were raped on their way to or from school. About twenty-two percent were sexually abused at home.

What is more alarming is that this research, based on The Daily Star news reports, reveals that around 80 percent of the rapists were known to the victims, neighbours or men who live in the same locality as the victims. It is therefore surprising that most of these perverts escape arrest and punishment. These findings allude to the fact, one that has been corroborated before by human rights organisations, that the arrest and conviction rates of rapists are very low.

Authorities’ in-activeness and exemption of crimes are encouraging the sex offenders to become ruthless. Long judiciary process, unwillingness to lodge a case and traditional society often discourage victims to step forward and bring perpetrators to justice. Rape is often used against minorities to carryout political vendetta. During anti-Hindu violence shortly after the 2001 elections, the gang rape of a Hindu schoolgirl did shock the nation. A court sentenced 11 men to life in prison for that crime in 2011, which is often taken as a positive notion as “Justice delayed/prolonged, but not denied.”

(part 2 of 5 part series)

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ADB-SANEM Conference on Understanding and Analysing Financial Soundness Indicators (Live Blogging)

ADB and SANEM (South Asian Network on Economic Modeling) jointly organised Conference on understanding and Analysing Financial Soundness Indicators. Shitanghshu Kumar Sur Chowdhury, Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank is the chief guest.

The first session started with Dr Guntor Sugiyarto, Senior Economist of ADB talking about Financial Soundness Indicators and their criteria. He also talked on the perspective of Bangladesh. He talked about why trend is important and why early warning system is needed. Reason being countries do not want to caught in financial damage after the crisis of 1997-1998. He said that still in Indonesia the affect is visible. Most of the times, the crisis came from other sectors rather than from financial sector. “A economy should be healthy and resilient,” he explains, “It should be ready for crisis.” 

Dr Selim Raihan, Executive Director, SANEM told, “We do not have the very updated data of the scams that took place in Bangladesh. How this is effecting the financial soundness of the economy?
When we talk about FSI, we have to keep in mind that we have a large informal sector, large informal economy then as well. ”
Some of the basic features of his paper-
1. Overview of the Bangladesh Economy and Financial Sector
2. Over the years the BD economy has shown stability.
3. How authority can provide access to better data set.

Will keep updating.

Online Birth Registration Process for Dhaka (Bangladesh) City Corporation (South)

I first came to know about the online birth registration process couple of months back. I wanted to make it online but due to time limitation and work pressure, could not go through the process until last week.

Dhaka South City Corporation Photo: PRS
Dhaka South City Corporation Photo: PRS

I called Dhaka City Corporation (South) as I was born within this side of the town. They provided me the details of where to go and whom to contact (And they were prompt), they did ask few questions like where I was born to pinpoint under which jurisdiction my place of birth fell. There is a complete list of areas and zonal office in the website. You can also get it here, Dhaka city zonal office.

I, along with my classmate went there last Wednesday. On the 7th floor, Rafiqul Islam, Birth and Death Reg. Asstt. work at room 813 and is responsible to put it online. It took around 10 minutes to complete the application process as I had a copy of my birth certificate with me. To register online, I just needed to give a copy of that and pay a fee of 250 taka, a receipt copy is provided.

I got new registration number and a certificate next day. I came back home to verify online my birth registration. I found out that there were spelling errors in the Bengali profile. What happened was that my previous birth certificate only contained my profile in English. So, I called them and they ensured me that I can go anytime to correct the errors as I just did the registration, no extra fees will be needed. I just need a valid document which contains my profile in Bengali (National Identification card). Also, you need to provide proper documents to change any of the information of the already registered birth certificate.

Now, many would like to ask why it is important to do birth registration online? This is an initiative taken by Government of Bangladesh and UNICEF to make an one point entry of birth registration. It has also the option to verify anyone’s identity online. Other than that, the birth registration process itself can help you to do the following things using Birth Registration Card:

  1. Passport Issue
  2. Voter Registration
  3. Marriage Registration
  4. In the process of getting a public and private job
  5. Driver’s License Registration
  6. Registration of Land
  7. To get registered as a voter
  8. Getting admitted into an educational institute
  9. To open a bank account
  10. License for Export and Import
  11. Getting a Tax Identification number
  12. Getting a license to become a contractor
  13. To register a vehicle
  14. To get Gas, water and electricity lines
  15. To get approval of a building design
  16. To get a trade license
  17. To get a national ID

The overall process has become remarkably smooth considering what we usually hear about DCC services. I was more than satisfied. Few things I noticed and noted:

  1. The website is often down, not accessible. I did talk with few high officials and they said it happens due to high volume of users but having a low bandwidth.
  2. The number of registered people shown in the website is not accurate. Reason is during the preliminary stage of the project, the people who carried out survey at villages to register people, did not get the information properly.
  3. This is an observation. I saw a notice outside of the lift of the City Corporation Building stating that if the person in-charge of the  lift is not present at his duty place to call a number. There was none in place, and nobody bothered to call. This shows that the user end does have the problem of awareness of the initiatives that are taken by authorities to provide better services.

As the website states, this year’s theme of Birth Registration day is “As you are born once, your registration should be once as well”. I believe we need to focus on the loophole I mentioned above. Also people should be made aware of the online service more, it will ensure the overall effectiveness of the process.

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Garden to Keep it Green: Dhaka City Corporation North Rooftop

 

Two weeks back, for academic purposes I had the chance to go to Dhaka City Corporation (North). I got to know about some of the amazing work they are doing including renovating public toilets, creating wifi zone within the corporation office arena, using the roof top space for composting, rain water harvesting and many more.

Here is a glimpse of some of the photos I got the chance to take.

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Composting instruments on roof top
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The Constant Gardener
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Straight (Far), rain-water harvesting instruments
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Mango!
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Mango!
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Fruit
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Pomelo Fruit on Roof Top Garden!

I really liked what they did with the building as well. Trying to recycle and improvise. Such initiatives and steps should be told to people to make them aware of the good things the government and the authority is doing.

 

Experience of Youth Leadership Summit 2014: Relevance

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Youth Leadership Summit 2014 organised by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center in Dhaka. 450 delegates (both national and international) and 50 speakers took part in the Summit. The delegates were selected out 2000 applicants. The delegate group consisted college (12th graders) to Masters students and young professionals. I tried to live blog each of the days, you can read more about those by going to day 1, day 2 and day 3.

Delegates of Youth Leadership Summit 2014. Credit: BYLC Facebook Page
Delegates of Youth Leadership Summit 2014. Credit: BYLC Facebook Page

The first point I would like to point out here that this youths represent a biased portion of the society due to couple of facts: 1) Unlike other BYLC summit this time, there was a fee of 3000 Taka to become a delegate, which for many was too high. Specially for those studying in public universities. 2) Application was received from 2000 youths out of millions, which does show only the portion willing to come were there. So, when these delegates are treated special, I beg to differ. Also, there were outliers like me who went in there to witness what the summit or the delegates have to offer.

Most were university students, specially from undergrad level. A few were Master’s students and young professionals. According one such graduate student:

I felt that the summit was suitable for college and first or second year students, not for people who are in masters level or doing jobs.

Next comes the point of relevance. How relevant the model of the Leadership Summit is in the context of Bangladesh? Many would just feel stunt of me making the question. But bear with me for few minutes.

If you ask a Bangladeshi about a leader, he or she would point directly to any politician. That may lead one to the conclusion that politicians and leaders are the same. Are they?

No they are not.  Jim Sniechowski, one of the Linkedin Influencer pointed out the differences well in his post. The post uses good example to explain. He also tried to find if there is any common area/interest/role among the two. He wrote:

Can a leader, as I define it, be a politician? Yes, but the combination is infrequent. Can a politician be a leader? Of course, but again the combination is infrequent, because he or she by character is more attracted to the nuts and bolts of carrying out operations than that of dreaming, musing, envisioning what is not yet in practice.

Now, the reason I bring this point in the table is—in a country where most do not know what role is played by whom, are they sure whether they want to be leaders or politicians? Or both?

Though a number of political party leaders and government officials were present in the summit, I did not find any youth who is affiliated with political parties or with government agencies. Two points can be made out of it: 1) No one with that population group is involved with political parties or with government agencies. or 2) They do not care about summit’s like this.

So a group is excluded from the process when you leave the youths who are in politics, who may become future leaders, policy makers and officials for government. How does it effect the whole process of Leadership enrichment should be explored in future.

I did have the privilege to attend two of the summits organised by BYLC. In both of the times, I tried to understand what did I learn, or what changed in me or what effect did it do. As Ejaj Ahmed, founder of BYLC repeated pointed it out that each year youths come in, get motivated during the sessions and pledge to change a lot of things. But after a week of the summit, everything goes back to as it was.

Learning includes what they take as motivation, the links they build and the certificates they take with them after the completion of the summit which may help them in career.

So, what is not clicking?

I talked with few delegates who also thought about it and turns out that these youths are already motivated. What the summit does is increase adrenaline. What these youth require is the guidance or learning the process to use their motivation to something substantial.  As I wrote what one foreign delegate commented:

It feels like they are just touching the surface, but not going to the root of the problem.

Also the sessions need to be planned with a different approach, it should not necessarily follow a model that is too much pre-designed. Even during the sessions, I found two sessions with speakers who were not ideal to talk about the topic. I think next time the organiser should think about a different approach rather than going for a north-american or European model.

Now, back to the point of relevance. I must share two experiences I had during the summit, here. After the first session of the first day, I went to the Gent’s Toilet to urinate. And I found the toilet left dirty by my previous user which reminded me what Gowher Rizvi just about half an hour ago in his inauguration speech said—to think and care about others!

The next experience I had during the afternoon tea break where a line was formed in front of the queue where tea was served. I was in line and to my surprise people just came in and took tea without caring the line. I did try to ask them after the incident what they think of their action. They did say sorry, but I feel they do not feel it by heart.

Though both of the examples are small and simple, but there are coherent and correlated. They show that we do lack the practice even though we complain about bribes, corruptions, misuse of property.

The change should be brought in at personal level first. They should know who they are, why they are doing what they are doing and how. Self-realisation is important. I found many lack knowledge about leadership, what leader is, the stakeholders they want to work with and most importantly the process they want to work. I found many with dreams of working on different topics without knowing the basic facts (Such included: Minority rights, traffic condition, bicycles, youth empowerment, energy condition etc.)

I heard almost all wants to do something for the country, and everyone, even the foreign delegates appreciate that. But the gap between reality and dream—how to mitigate that should be the focus of a Leadership Summit if such again takes place in future.

Please do comment if you think something fruitful can be added or some of the facts that can be argued about. I believe the intention is there, but the execution is not bringing the desired result. So I would love to hear what you think.

BYLC Youth Leadership Summit 2014: from ‘one of the best experiences’ to ‘Are we unwanted?’

The following has been written based on social media comments and comments given in person at the summit by different delegates.

One of the Best Experiences                                                                                                    Are We Unwanted                                                                                                    

BYLC organised the third Youth Leadership Summit from 11-13 June 2014. I was selected along with 449 other delegates where the actual applicants were close to 2000.

During the three days, I tried to follow what delegates had to say both in person and online. Here is a glimpse:

One of the Best Experience

from Nepal shared his excitement while waiting for registration:

 tweeted: 

The summit took off on 11 June at 10 am with inauguration speech by Gowher Rizvi, Adivosor to Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

 working for UNDP and as a facilitator for BYLC did a great job by asking delegates about their passion, what they liked about sessions and their experience:

https://twitter.com/AfreenReign/statuses/47693112741266227

was also vibrant in twitter:

https://twitter.com/SumaiyaTA/statuses/47702720830989926

About the first day  and  tweets:

Also about the debrief session,  quotes a delegate:

Others:

 

Are We Unwanted

After the lunch of the final day, I was waiting downstairs of Bangabandhu Conference Center Dhaka where the summit took place. I was thrilled to come across a conversion which led me to dig deep. (For confidentiality reasons and upon request, names of the delegates opined are not mentioned)

The conversation was about the attitude of the facilitators. The discussants were talking about rude behaviour that they received from the facilitator was unexpected. Two of delegates said they were mocked by facilitators for not knowing something. They opined, “If we knew so much, would I have come to the summit? Are we unwanted?”. One eye witness of an incident said that there was a delegate who recently joined university and she did not have any kind of id card. It may seen to many that how it is possible. But considering Bangladesh’s context it can happen. As she is not old enough to get a national id and she did not make a passport nor she had student id. She was harassed at the queue of registration.

Also they mentioned that during the application process they were asked to send money to Bkash accounts for which they called many times to BYLC office and no one answered. Also, one delegate mentioned that she came from Chittagong and was supposed to give interview. She missed the call in the first place and when she called back she was faced with unprofessional behaviour and words. The process of BKash was not clear to many and the time given to make the payment was not sufficient as it required to send from a merchant’s account. They also said the two emails sent created confusion. The second email should have been the only email in the first place. Later others joined, some of them were foreign delegates. One shared, “Own professional development is not happening, no strategy. They are just working on the motivation. They energy is there, but not the person to show the process.” One added, “It feels like they are going over the surface, but not going deep.”

I just want to write one thing that I found I can not ignore is that, in the boy’s toilet I found few were vomiting after the third day’s lunch. I asked others about the food, some did say they felt bad, some even skipped certain part of the meal. I think the food should remain a priority as more than 500 people being served in each of the summit days.

The discussion was spontaneous. However afterwards I tried to ask others about their experience, those are not mentioned here. I did ask to the discussants why then twitter feeds and other social media not showing such remarks. Those along with my own experience of the summit will be portrayed in the next blog and I will try to analysis whether it really helps the youths or not.

UPDATE 1: YOUTH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT 2014 #BYLCSUMMIT DAY 3 (FINAL DAY, LIVE BLOGGING)

I missed the first session due to a last moment schedule of a presentation for my masters thesis. But here is a glimpse of the feed that went in social media:

Youth in Politics panel included Shahriar Alam, Mahi B. Chowdhury, Tarana Halim and Nasiruddin Ashim.

Sustainable Development panel included mahabub hossain, runa khan, binayak sen, and shykh seraj.

education and career panel included Omar Rahman,Maimuna ahmad, Fahima Aziz, and Amyn Saleh.

Gender and Leadership panel included Sara Hossain, Nihad Kabir, Luna Shamsuddoha and Anneli Lindahl Kenny.

second session just started. 
I am in the Innovation panel which focuses on ‘Breakthroughs for the public good’. Will keep on updating.
Update 1

The panel consisted Tamera Abid of BRAC, Anir Chowdhury from A2I, PMO, Iffath Sharif from World Bank and Pias Islam, Pi Strategy consulting.

Tamera Abid talked about two of BRAC’s innovation or findings which happened because of the people working at the root level. These two include: Amzad Hossain who made sure that everyone in his community gets vaccination. And the second thing was using Bananas to keep the vaccines cool.

Iffath Sharif talked about three challenges with government’s Social Safety Net (SSN): 1) Equity 2) Efficiency 3) Transparency. But she emphasised on public initiatives and partnerships.

She talked about to pilot project that World Bank experimented with. 6000 beneficiaries were given phone for business and communication purpose in 2 upazillas. 4000 people are still using working, shows the efficiency of the project. In another project 4000 beneficiaries were given post cards by local post offices. The project showed that time and cost both went down because of using the tools. She also informed that the government’s SSN programmes have efficiency of 30% which means a lot being wasted.

Pial Islam talked about digical=digital+physical which is the new theme as digitalisation cant only ensure development. There is a shift from thinking of products+user to Network+user.

Anir Chowdhury talked about the process of A2I and he said the primary approach was totally wrong. Then they started focusing on action plans rather on policy making. An initiative was taken to make government officials to work on only a big idea for eight months. He also stated that government is willing to test new ideas and things. He mentioned:

The session was informative but I never heard these examples before. So I asked the question why these information are not easily accessible? And I felt that people at field level are innovative cause they worked with real people and real time data which became information.

Think tanks and communication workshop: a learner’s perspective

My experience of the communication workshop that took place at Dhaka last month.

Youth Leadership Summit 2014 kicks off (live blogging)

“To be effective competent, compassionate are not the only  things needed today. You need to grow personal relations, links.” states Ejaj Ahmed, the founder of BYLC as the summit kicks off. 450 delegates are present in the summit.

The keynote panelists include Gowher Rizvi, advisor to Prime Minister, Secretary Nur Mohammad from Ministry of Youth and sports, and Sarah Cooke, Country Representative DFID.
As a introduction of Gowher Rizvi, Ejaj describes a discussion that they had, “To be honest I came back to Bangladesh to serve the interest of the common people-this indicates how dedicated he is.
Gowher Rizvi, in his speech calls the youths to use the opportunity that given to them. He asked them to stop for a while, and reflect on what they are doing. “Mahatma Gandhi had a dream. And he did not let anything get anything in between. He had a vision, no other had in the sub-continent at his time.”
“We can all be leaders. It is changing, what has not changed is need for passion, need for vision, commitment and desire to go beyond oneself. Leadership is very different now. Leader is someone who can bring out the best in others. Leaderships is not being a macho man. Leaders may not have the formal authority but they can create own authority.”

“To lead, is not a top down process. It is as Ejaj said leaders should be able to create network of capable people  and resources and to give their best.”

“You have to prepare to make make sacrifice. Mahatma Gandhi Made sacrifice, Bangabandhu made sacrifice. But the sacrifice asked from a leader should not be of pain, it should be joyful and sacred. Bangabandhu sacrificed a lot, half of his life in jail. He has been charged for treason. But he did not flinch. ”
Sarah Cooke in her speech talked on three points: 1) why UK government is funding the summit 2) Why it is important and 3) Her personal story.
She informed that UK government is committed to support the development programmes for betterment of the people of Bangladesh. UK has donated 262 million pounds last year as bilateral donor. By 2015, UK funded programmes will be supporting half a million children to become literate, 1.3 million to get clean water, 1.5 million people to be free of poverty.
Nur Mohammad, described the work that BYLC is doing to help formulate the youth policy. He also announced the opening of the summit 2014.

BIASD observes World Environment Day 2014

When my Professor first told me to attend the seminar, I was not sure what I was going in for. The seminar was organised by Bridging Institutions and Innovations in Action for Sustainable Development (BIASD). The seminar inaugurated a Campaign on Clean, Safe and Women Friendly Environment in Educational Institutions for Sustainable Development. Readers who prefer Bengali can read it here.

I was late and I was there in the middle of a presentation. The presentation caught my attention instantly as I was doing a research work on the topic—the environment around us. People with high rank and position in government and at university were present there. What I liked the most about the seminar was the speakers openness in admitting the problems and trying to give suggestions. It was not at all academic rather pragmatic.

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BIASD celebrate World Environmental Day 2014

Deputy Secretary Dr Abul Hossain of Ministry of Woman and Children Affairs told a undeniable fact—the way we portray Bangladesh outside is not the right way. He talked about his experience abroad, how he did not used to like cleaning the training premises at the beginning, where he got trained. Then later when he got used to it, he generally understood the importance. Tania Hoque, also mentioned that culturally we are lot aware of our personal hygiene. But we just think of our house and we keep it clean till our doors. Speakers emphasized on the fact that we should develop the habit of treating our surrounding environment as our own. It is our responsibility to keep it clean and we should.

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Professor Reazul Haque speaking at the seminar

Professor Reazul Haque stated that women are still treated as unwanted, even by women. The reason being the women do not want their children to go through the same harassment that they themselves went through.

For me, the important takeaway was that a lot is happening around, and I know a little part of it only. I should try to know more. Also, a question that usually comes in my mind is that how effective such campaigns be in the long run? I mean lots of campaigns kick off, how many does reach their desire goal or even half way?

Everybody agreed that the responsibility to keep the nature unharmed rest on the shoulders of young generation. I do agree with that completely. How much aware are they themselves, or do they really care? Time will definitely let us know whether they do or they do not, but for now, we can hope and try.

Other links:

==News online==

New Age

The Daily Star

The Daily Sun

The Independent