Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 42, Tuesday, October 26, 2010



LS editor’s note

A tradition of doormats

I abhor domestic violence, be it verbal abuse or physical. And I have no respect for men who beat their wives, no matter how well placed they are in society or how far below they are of the optimal per capita income range. Men, who show their strength and display aggression towards their partners, are the lowliest beings on earth, as far as my conscience goes.

I am also not a big fan of women who just sit back and take it day in and day out either. As if they exist solely to be rattled right, left and centre by their spouses. As if gathering pity from neighbours and getting bravado from friends for putting up with it, or keeping the family prestige intact, by getting beaten black and blue, is the only course of action for women in these unfortunate circumstances.

I refuse to accept the 'you asked for it' argument; I totally disagree that these brutes cannot be brought to justice or simply taught a lesson. Whatever the reason, be it the age old traditional excuse of rickshaw pullers that their meals weren't ready on time, or be it her having an affair with someone else or even him being unfaithful; violence is never the answer, antagonism never justice.

Women should decide for themselves what they want because if someone else decides for them, then they will feel obligated to continue the marriage saying, “Your interference is ruining my marriage, I have children.”

I really want to know, what of the children? Is it healthy for them to be in the midst of violent family scenes; is it right for them to learn the wrong? Don't you think your son is learning that dominating the weak is being macho, and what of your daughter? She is definitely not self-confident, she is learning to be submissive. This, or both your son and daughter are taking up other means of distraction to keep their minds off the situation at home.

Studies do say that almost 90 percent of sons who see their fathers abuse their mothers end up being like him; rarely does a son decide to hate his father's ugliness, but he always hates his mother’s subjection and hopelessness.

I really cannot understand the desperation to maintain the social status that you need to cling to with a husband who doesn't respect you. Your job and your education should be enough to support you; the children are his too. You are a wimp because he prefers you that way and you oblige him by being naïve women; I am talking to you.

Men, who are abusive, are in reality sadistic and psychotic, they are big perverts with severe complexes. They've been taught in their families that they are the lords and they need to be served. This is the attitude in families that are educated and cultured, in families that live in villages or in urban slums. Unless this basic family philosophy changes, domestic violence will never stop.

Recently the government has passed a bill on domestic violence that gives you the right to challenge these situations. The enactment of the bill on domestic violence expresses recognition of domestic violence as an offence, and emphasizes the need for immediate and emergency relief and support systems.

You have the instrument, now all you need is the willpower. Please revolt against domestic violence.

– Raffat Binte Rashid

Ls pick

Tong er chaa near Corporate offices

The scene
In front of any office today, you name it, there are always a few tea stalls, catering to the office-goers, especially the young and middle-aged executives. No matter how shoddy and dirty the place is, it is one of the most popular go-to places among executives. Therefore, a major 'office activity' occurs outside the office -in the tea stalls! With so many people coming and going all the time discussing so many issues, the tea stalls have an interesting and colourful life of their own. Take a sneak peek at what goes on inside!

Fresh air
It's daunting to sit in the office for long hours and work continuously. People need breaks. And obviously just the one lunch break can never be enough. Therefore, people need to go out and freshen up. Ashraf, a thirty-year old banker shares his experience. “After every three or four hours or so, I and a couple of my colleagues, go out to the tea stall behind our office…gets your mind off the pressure. After a light chitchat and a cup of tea, we are ready to work again”.

And the tea offered by these local stalls is a lot better than the tea served in the office. Wasif, another banker, says, “Our office doesn't provide tea/coffee all the time like many other offices. Also, the extremely sweet and hot tea of these tea stalls- and not to forget the shingara- is much better than the one in the office. So I have to go out. And people go out anyway, to smoke”.

Tea stall stories
Perhaps the biggest location for an information grapevine - the informal network and communication in an organisation - to flourish is the tea stalls. Visiting a tea stall near an office gives quite a vivid picture of the company. All the gossip builds up from here, all the rumours get checked; back-biting, chitchatting, laughing, complaining all are in full swing.

You're likely to get valuable information about the stock market if you simply have a cup of tea standing there. Zayed, who works for a well-known marketing company, says that it is not easy to sit in a cubicle and discuss share prices over the phone in front of so many colleagues and his boss near him. Thus, he goes out, and, between sips, he talks to people over the phone regarding shares. In fact, one of the more common topics of discussion in these tea stalls over the phone or between colleagues is about the stock market.

Another discussion involves lighter things tempting gossip and goofs. “A few ten minute breaks, continued for a week or so, will tell you everything you need to know about other people working with you. Who's dating whom, who's breaking up with whom, who's getting a promotion and who's getting fired - you have all the info here” tells Sunny, a young executive.

But it's not always the fun topics they discuss, though. “When my boss assigned a task and put me in a team, the first thing we did was sit in a tea stall and plan together,” says Samia. “We could have sat in the cafeteria, but we prefer the fresh air”.

Discussions don't end here, of course. Complaining seems to be one of the favourite pastimes of workers. After all, it is a very lively discussion topic don't you think? And the office-goers do it very well! Complaining how inhumanly demanding one's boss can be, or how cranky the admin lady downstairs can get, or how painfully bureaucratic the organisation is, are very common musings of the crowd. But quite interestingly, the situation gets reversed when two friends from different companies meet. “My office in Gulshan Avenue is one of the many offices there and the workers share some common tea stalls in between”, informs Taslima. “When I go there, I usually bump into friends working in other companies. A friendly, yet somehow heated debate starts as to whose company is better, or cooler!”

But this interaction between people from different organisations has a benefit. For example, Shariar recently switched companies. He heard about the job vacancy in the tea stall. Your network grows enormously, both inside your organisation and outside as well, by simply standing on the street with a cup of tea. It's amazing, how much such an inexpensive and small cup of tea can bring to you!

By M H Haider
Photo: Zahedul I Khan


Silverine's secret

On a cool autumn evening, the stage was set for some flamboyant display of couture, set to put the ramp on fire and raise the mercury levels. 'Silverine's Secrets in Silverstitches' was a show that presented the latest fashion ideas envisaged by designers of Silverine, Design Dhaka and Diva.

The designs were primarily western outfits sassy cocktails, graceful gowns, teasing skirts but due importance was given to ethereal saris and suave salwar kameezes. Men's wear was not left out either; winter jackets, panjabis and formal wear being part of the core display of the evening.

Silverine's designs gave orthodox western wear a touch of innovation where eastern influences predominated. The display of cocktail dresses, which set the ball rolling, had a magical touch that was accentuated by incorporating eastern elements to western concepts. Thus the audience observed cocktails complemented by dupattas, the concept of saris visibly incorporated into occidental ideologies. Highlight of the queue was a cobalt-blue outfit that left the audience awe-inspired.

“Pink and Purple” showed an entire range of women's attires that created much enthusiasm among the audience. But the most interesting experiments were probably done in the segment that followed lively skirts and tops that teased the audience sometimes with raw sensuality and often in sheer grace. Undoubtedly a most interesting segment!

As models tread the ramps, each section of the show gave the fashionista audience a glimpse of the latest fashion trends, some predicting the couture of the coming wedding and winter seasons. Also of interest were ethereal white gowns perfect for Christian weddings.

It must be said that Silverine's Secrets revealed concepts of an articulate mind that can play with the concepts of both East and West, and create attires that stand out as pieces of wearable art.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Zahedul I Khan


Nokia dons pink again this month to raise awareness for breast cancer

Nokia, for the umpteenth year in a row is spending October, recognised globally as the Breast Cancer Awareness month, with a number of initiatives to raise awareness for and fight breast cancer.

This is the fourth year that Nokia has helped raise awareness for breast cancer with direct collaboration with Center for Cancer Prevention & Research (CCPR). In Bangladesh, CCPR intensifies its initiatives to raise awareness about the disease and conducts screening camps across the country for women for breast cancer during this month. Nokia is promoting the cause by sponsoring the district level screening and detection camps as well as supporting the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.

In support of the campaign, Nokia announced the promotion of the Nokia E63, 5530, 6700, 7230 and 2690 handsets. With the sale of each of these handsets, Tk. 2000 from the sales proceeds will go towards raising breast cancer awareness.

The Pink Ribbon is the international symbol for breast cancer awareness, and the campaign asks everyone to show solidarity to the cause by wearing pink ribbons on October 26th, 2010. Pink ribbons will be on sale at all Nokia stores and the complete sales proceeds from these ribbons will go to CCPR in aid of their efforts.

Nokia will also provide informative handouts about prevention and early detection, all of which will be accessible from their website; people will be encouraged to pass this information along via email. Nokia will also provide themes for their mobile devices in the Ovi store to support pink.

Furthermore, in November, Nokia will host a gala fund raising ball where all corporate houses will donate to the cause and all money raised, along with all the money raised throughout the campaign, will go towards the breast cancer awareness screening camps nationwide.

Dr. Md. Habibullah Talukder, Associate Professor and Head of Department of Cancer Epidemiolgy, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital said, “It is important to remember that breast cancer has the second highest prevalence amongst women who contact cancer. Despite this so few women know anything about it or how important it is to screen for early detection of the disease.”

By Farheena Rahma

Beating breast cancer

In first-world countries, breast cancer is a highly talked-about topic, but not so much in Bangladesh, where it is not discussed publicly. Instead, many women, at least among the poorer economic classes, who suffer from breast cancer, are stigmatised.

Many survivors are trying to change this perception. From 1997, talk and support has been growing even as the prevalence of the disease has been growing. The work of cancer support groups like Aparajita is becoming more pronounced.

This is led by Perveen Sayeda Ahmed, one of the lucky patients who survived breast cancer. The widow of renowned playwright and cultural icon Sayeed Ahmed, and the chairperson of Aparaijita, she has always been active and healthy, a working woman involved in social services. Working as a writer and journalist for a long time, she wrote about the pioneering work in handicraft development,

Though she had no children, she has always been close to her nieces and nephews. Her husband was always there to support her and be with her as well. They were her family. It was her family's support that helped her get through her ordeal. It was 1996. She was 58 years old at the time, working on a research assignment on Nokshikatha project, documenting and cataloguing different pieces, when, one day, she felt a pain in her chest. Her family told her it was because she was working so hard. This pain continued for two to three months. She believed that stress from her work was causing the pains and as soon as the project was completed, the pain would go away. Over the next five to six months, the pain continued even as she finally completed he work.

Her family decided that they would go on holiday to India as soon as she finished the project. They went to New Delhi and had a nice holiday, going to cultural shows, and dance and musical performances. Towards the end of the holiday, they came to Calcutta. There, at a soiree for Jagjit Singh, halfway through the program, she felt a shooting pain, and with her husband's insistence, they went home immediately.

They were flying back to Dhaka the next day. After telephoning her niece the next day, her niece insisted she would take her to a gynecologist. At the visit, upon getting tested, the doctor found a lump. The doctor said immediate surgery was needed. The next day, after telling her family, her nephew, the older brother of the niece, called and said he would arrange for treatment abroad because as Parveen Ahmed put it, “It's a disease that's not so well-known here and there's no good treatment,”. To find out what the lump really is the family went for consultation to Manwara Hospital in Moghbazar, which Ahmed credited with having good doctors. “Some of our best surgeons of Bangladesh at that time, elderly people, were working there,” she said. After a biopsy, the result came back as carcinoma, although at the primary stage. Still, the lump had to be removed in three days. Otherwise it would spread.

Though her family recommended different doctors in Gulshan and elsewhere, her nephew said he would arrange treatment in India, specifically at Tata Memorial Hospital. Under the care of a jovial and caring Gujrati doctor, and with the full support and backing of her husband, and a younger nephew who travelled with them, she had one breast removed to prevent future spread. After a few days of rest and rehabilitation, including preparation on how to take further care of herself, she returned to Dhaka. The doctors kept insisting that her health was now in her hands. The disease has been taken care of.

Rest and recovery took longer, however. Though three months of recovery was recommended by doctors, her husband suffered a brain stroke after only one month. With many relations to assist them, they rushed to Singapore. After about two weeks, he couldn't talk, but started smiling. They returned to Dhaka a month later. At that time, she had to take care of her husband even though she was still in the middle of her own recovery. Still, because of their positive attitude about life and having lived a life of service, and with the help of their nieces and nephews, he recovered, as did she. The whole process took six months.

She has been lucky in receiving excellent care, in not needing chemo, radiation therapy or medication, and having a supportive environment around her. Since her surgery, she exercises daily, eats healthily, and takes good care of herself. She has remained active and become involved once again in social service, founding Aparijita with two of her fellow patients from Tata Memorial Hospital.

Aparajita is more than just a cancer support group. Based on the Road to Recovery, it is also a volunteer service helping people to face and live with breast cancer and other types of cancer. It is the first of its kind in Bangladesh, and indeed in South Asia. Since its inception, it has tried to provide support services to the Diganta Cancer Memorial Foundation in Dhaka, through counselling of in-house patients, women, children, and men.

She and her fellow cancer survivors have become models to inspire other cancer-afflicted patients by illustrating to them, through their own lives, that the human spirit in serenity and peace can overcome all cancers, even breast cancer, and bloom. For this reason, they chose the beautiful delicate wild flower which survives in natural fields in Bangladesh.

Her final words to me were “I may not be a typical case, but I am a case to take note of because I did certain things which some patients do not agree with or don't do.”

By Sayeeda T. Ahmed



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star