Bangladesh: Activism Struggling to Be Born
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Published in: November-December 2013 issue.


SANJIDA is a 21-year-old Muslim and Puja is a 16-year-old Hindu. These two girls have fallen in love and run off to be together. Scandalous? Maybe, Puja is young, after all, and the girls come from different religious backgrounds. Dangerous? Absolutely. Last July 23rd, the police were called after Puja’s father reported her missing. They found the girls married according to “Hindu law” and living in the capital. But this is not America or even India. This is Bangladesh, where same-sex relations are illegal and punishable with ten years of hard labor or life imprisonment.

In Bangladesh, seventy percent of the population live in poor villages. Village elders are more feared than the police, who are ineffective in an emergency if they respond at all. Like Pakistan, Bangladesh is overwhelmingly Islamic (at ninety percent of the population), and there is little tolerance for homosexual behavior, which can be subject to brutal punishment.

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