Intl Women’s Day tomorrow: Rally and discussion at Rangamati

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Hill Voice, 7 March 2023, Special Correspondent: Tomorrow (8 March 2023) is International Women’s Day. This day is a very significant day in the context of the movement to establish equal rights and equal status for women in the countries of the world.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day and the 35th founding anniversary of the Hill Women’s Federation, a rally and discussion meeting will be organized at Rangamati on the initiative of the Hill Women’s Federation and Parbatya Chattagram Mahila Samiti.

The gathering will start at Rangamati District Shilpakala Academy at 9 am and the rally will start from there at 9:30 am. After that, at 10 am, a discussion meeting will be held on the theme of ‘Proper use and skills of digital policy, technology and innovation are essential to establish equal rights and dignity of men and women’ that was made according to the UN Theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’.

The meeting will be presided over by Moni Chakma, organizing secretary of the Parbatya Chattagram Mahila Samiti, and Sadhuram Tripura, member of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, will be present as the chief guest. Besides, progressive politicians, teachers, intellectuals, journalists, students and leaders of youth organizations will be present as guests.
It should be noted that the celebration of ‘International Women’s Day’ started on March 8, according to the proposal of Clara Zetkin, the founder of the International Women’s Liberation Movement, at the Second International Women’s Conference held in 1910 in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. The day was originally chosen to commemorate the 1908 New York City women’s garment workers’ strike against inhumane working conditions and discriminatory wages. Later, in the context of the awakening of women’s society and the movement to establish their rights in countries around the world, in 1975, the United Nations also recognized March 8 as “International Women’s Day” and declared the period from 1976 to 1985 as the Women’s Decade. As a result, this International Women’s Day became more widespread and started to take an important role and create deep inspiration in establishing the just rights of women worldwide.

It is to be noted that this day is being remembered and considered as one of the inspiring historical days in establishing the equal rights and equal status of women in the society, and in the social progress movement along with the struggle to stand up against the ongoing discrimination, exploitation, deprivation, oppression, and violence against women, in the state, social and family spheres.

This women’s day in the Chittagong Hill Tracts comes at a time when there is a spate of physical and sexual violence against Jumma women including murder by the outsider Bengali settlers. Although the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord was signed in 1997 with the aim of resolving the CHT problems through peaceful and political means, the establishment of the fair rights of the Jumma people has been far away due to the fact that the Accord was not properly and fully implemented. In addition, the human rights of the Jumma people have been undermined due to one after another anti-Accord and anti-Jumma interest actions by the ruling group. As a result, even after the Accord, land grabbing, eviction, murder, torture, persecution, false cases, beatings, imprisonment, oppression, repression, searches, harassment etc. of Jumma people including violence against Jumma women by and with the help of the government and state forces have become a casual event. As a result, the very existence of the Jumma nation and their homeland is facing an extreme threat today.

In 2022, at least 12 Jumma women were reported to have been victims of physical and sexual violence. In the past one month only, 1 Jumma woman was killed, 2 Jumma women were raped, gang raped and attempted smuggling and 1 housewife was attempted to rape.

On March 3, 2023, around 11:00 a.m., a tribal Chakma housewife (25) was attempted to rape by a Muslim Bengali boat driver named Abdul Malek (55), at her home in Maichhari village of Sublong union near the place called ‘Swagatam Jurachari’ on the Rangamati-Jurachari waterway in Sublong union of Barkal upazila of Rangamati.

Last February 24, 2023, around noon on Friday, a Marma woman (24) was subjected to physical abuse and rape by a Bengali resident named Md. Kaiser (36), son of Abdullah in Lama’ Fansiakhali of Bandarban district, while she went to collect vegetables in the field next to her house.

On February 10, 2023, a Jumma schoolgirl (14) studying in 8th grade was picked up in Panchari of Khagrachari district. Later, Jonny Barua and Kajal Barua and Md. Saqib and his accomplice detained the schoolgirl until February 12, 2023 and gang raped and attempted to smuggle her elsewhere.

It is to be noted that in the said violent incidents, the arrest of Kaiser who raped the Marma woman of Lama’s Fansiakhali has been reported, but the arrest of other accused miscreants is not known.