First it seemed almost unbelievable to me. How can such a thing happen? Jolly Talukder, the familiar face of Dhaka University campus-Shahbagh-Paltan and a dedicated, full time activist of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) is somehow being compelled to appear in a single sit-in demonstration cum hunger strike? An internal letter to the Party officials by Jolly (that became viral yesterday on social network) elucidates that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow party man named Zahid Hossain Khan on street a couple of months ago. The offender “took” some “opportunity” to “touch her indecently” when she stood neck to neck to him while remaining busy in a street procession in early March. As the predator did not pay any heed to Jolly’s request to stop, at one point she had to give up her banner and come out of the procession. Although Jolly complained to her party officials about the incident instantly, no action had so far been taken against the offender. Rather Jolly was asked to join in a party meeting with the same offender together and that was very painful for her. The shocking most part in Jolly’s letter was that another truthful young comrade of CPB (Secretary of the Shanti Nagar thana wing of CPB, Dhaka) was sacked from the Party who witnessed the incident and protested it. It’s really hard to believe such things from a Party like CPB who had been waging war for a democratic, socialist and secular Bangladesh over half a century. Jolly, in addition, mentioned in her letter that often her dress got torn apart in collision with police in her activist life but she never felt “sexually harassed” and as a leftist partisan, she had worked with males from the most disadvantaged and uneducated segments of society but never she had the feelings of being “sexually assaulted” in her long political career.
I first met Jolly in Modhur Canteen of Dhaka University around a decade ago. A tall and strong-built girl in zeans and khadi Punjabi and she was astoundingly good looking without any make-over. I did also come to know that she hails from some sort of a locally landlord family in the broader Mymenshing region. I remember how many young men in Modhur canteen used to ponder over that why the hell for she had come to Dhaka to undertake such a hard life? She could easily get married to any rich person, as generally expected from a “pretty woman” from a “wealthy family” in our society. But Jolly embraced a life of thorns and difficulties for her ideals. She had lived even in the quarter of fourth class employees in Dhaka University campus and she is a full time activist with trade union movement in the RMG sector. But today she is being ridiculed in comparison to her offender by her fellow party men that the “offender” is not a “whole timer” like her. It cannot be simply accepted from a party like CPB.
It’s the month of autumn. Soon we will listening to the mantra or chant offered to Goddess Durga, the symbol of women’s strength and vigor. The Goddess who alone had slaughtered scores of fierce demons will be invoked for beauty, victory and fame! And in real live? In real life a Jolly Talukder is feeling compelled to sit in solo demonstration cum hunger for justice. And the rule of patriarchy is always the same: never trust the victim and be soft to the offender! It’s the thumb rule everywhere…from corporate sector to left party offices. One or two months ago, same sort of complains were supposedly raised by some former female party member of another left leaning party. That female member finally resigned. In this arena of social network, everything becomes “viral” and comes to your notice, even if you are connected or not with that particular person. So dear male left leaders in different left leaning parties, sometimes we may sound a bit “harsh” in our criticims to you as we expect the most and the best from you….lease, be equal in treatment to the female comrades in your parties in true sense!
God knows can’t we never expect a single morning without any sort of news of sexual assault or offence? Also wish to urge to the CPB high command to take concern of this incident and do the justice.