Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bangladesh: gender violence - again.

Another case of acid violence in Bangladesh. Why? Complex socio-cultural (psychological?) reasons.  A beautiful young wife, mother, Fulbright scholar -  burned, blinded by her husband. Read Rumana Manzur's story from Global Post. Read about ways to help through the Acid Survivors Foundation; for another look at gender inequality and violence in South Asia read Social injustice: gender violence in Asia.

Rumana Manzur beaten, blinded by husband
Denise Ryan, Postmedia News: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rumana Manzur, 33, a Fulbright scholar from Bangladesh completing a master's degree at UBC, was savagely beaten and blinded in Bangladesh by her husband.
Rumana Manzur, 33, a Fulbright scholar from Bangladesh completing a master's degree at UBC, was savagely beaten and blinded in Bangladesh by her husband.
Photo Credit: Handout, Special to the Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — Family and friends of a celebrated University of British Columbia scholar who was savagely beaten and blinded in Bangladesh by her husband are calling for justice. Rumana Manzur, 33, was a Fulbright scholar from Bangladesh, completing a master's degree at UBC. In May, she returned to Bangladesh to visit her five-year-old daughter and husband. Shortly after her return, Manzur's husband attacked her. Syeed Hasan allegedly gouged her eyes out with his fingers and chewed part of her nose off in front of their young daughter, during a bitter argument over her education.
Manzur was slated to return to UBC in August to complete a thesis on climate change.

Marleen deRuiter, a St. John's College residence roommate of Manzur's, described her as very devout, cheerful, caring and a doting mother who called her daughter every day in Bangladesh. "She is very, very upset that she will never see her daughter again and there is a possibility that her husband will get away with it," said deRuiter. Saif Islam, a UBC student who works on behalf of Bangladeshi students at UBC, has been in contact with Manzur's family. Islam said that Manzur's husband attempted to evade the police, then defended his actions by accusing Manzur of having an affair. Manzur appeared on Bangladeshi television from her hospital bed to defend herself against her husband's accusations and plead for justice.
The accusations of an affair have outraged her family and friends, and Islam published an open letter from Bangladeshi families in Vancouver condemning the "baseless" assault on her character.

Islam said her husband, who is unemployed, attacked and blinded her to prevent her from continuing her education. Manzur's plight has drawn public protests in Bangladesh, where she was also a professor at the University of Dhaka.
"After protests in Bangladesh, and from St. John's College, he admitted he made up (the accusations of infidelity)," said Islam. "After assaulting her physically, he assaulted her character." Islam, a PhD student studying domestic violence and women's networks in Bangladesh, said that country only recently passed a law protecting women from domestic violence.
"I have not seen any good enforcement of the law," he said. "I just saw her on TV. Her eyes were covered, part of her nose was taken off by her husband and there are bandages and bruises all over her face and hands." Manzur's parents had her moved briefly to a hospital in India to see if her vision could be saved, but doctors said the damage was too severe, said Islam. Islam and deRuiter say they hope to find a way to get Manzur some treatment in North America to see if her vision can be restored.

UBC president Stephen Toope issued a written statement on Manzur's behalf, stating in part, "This tragic occasion is a poignant marker of the need to work to protect the fundamental human right of all women to pursue education. The allegations that her commitment to her studies was a factor in the attack are of grave concern."
Toope said he has contacted Manzur's parents to offer help and support.

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