Protest: Bangladesh rapes ‘overlooked’ by ExCel sexual violence summit
13:15 17 June 2014
A protest about Bangladesh was held at a huge three-day conference in Newham lead by Angelina Jolie over the event’s lack of focus on sexual violence in Bangladesh.
The protesters at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, co-chaired by foreign secretary William Hague, held posters and handed out leaflets to highlight the crimes against women during the country’s liberation war.
The free summit from June 10 to 13 is the largest ever meeting on the subject of violence against women.
But protesters from Gonojagorom Moncho, which means “stage of revelation”, felt the crimes in Bangladesh in 1971 were being overlooked, with only one session on the subject at the summit.
Nijhoom Majumder, a blogger and activist from Manor Park, said: “We were there because this summit is all about ending sexual violence in war. 200,000 women were raped in Bangladesh and it’s not present at this summit. No-one was representing Bangladesh.
“They talk about Bosnia in the 90s, Cambodia in 1975, why not Bangladesh in 1971?”
The women who were raped and tortured by the Pakistani army and Bangladeshi collaborators were named Birangona, or “heroic women”, by Bangladesh’s then leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to identify their ordeal as part of the country’s struggle for independence from Pakistan.
Many who survived were disowned by their families and left unable to find husbands, suffering prejudice to this day.
Nijhoom added: “I’m not blaming the organisers, because blame goes to the Bangladesh government as well.
“When we handed out leaflets people were very interested and didn’t even know about what happened.”