Migration looked at from a broader
perspective, is a subject that will certainly overwhelm many.
The documentary of female migrants and a photographic show on
the same subject do the very thing of trying to wake us up to
the facts of migration and its bearing on the economic and social
landscape of Bangladesh.
The British Council lent a hand to Media-mix
Enterprise, an affiliate of the Grey Worldwide Bangladesh since
early March 2003, in their effort to make their first venture.
The result is a documentary that strove to give voice to both
the travails and the prospects that concerns the act of migration.
The film is titled 'Another Horizon'. It was screened for the
first time on 27 August at the British Council auditorium.
The inauguration was marked by a no-frills ceremony,
which provided a chance for its makers to shade some light on
the motive of their product.
Concurrent with the screening of the documentary
there was a smallish photography show titled Stories of the
Soil. This show mostly charts the female day-labourers within
the national boundary.
the inauguration, Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui of RMMRU (Refugee and
Migratory Movement Research Unit), hoped that the film that
was produced with the support of the British Council would advocate
the issues of female migration in both grassroot and policy-making
level. Bearing this invocation in mind, one should take stalk
of the fact that even though women in their effort to eke out
a living crossing borders and taking up jobs in alien lands,
the government is still in the throes of some arcane ideas.
These ideas have their roots in gender bias and stringent social
morals. They manifest in the existing laws that prevent women
from going abroad. One of the speakers portrayed in the film
who took issues with this stringency, believes that this has
been a major catalyst in the rise of women trafficking.
The dream of a prosperous life is not only the
prerogative of the educated. There are less-educated ones who
also have the drive and the capability to venture out in search
of a better livelihood. The film, through interviews with experts
and with a number of women who went abroad to change their fate
and then came back, hammer this point home.
Though not as extensive as it could have been,
the film well geared in inculcating in the viewers a positive
sense of the act of migration and its economic possibilities.
The script is sufficiently loaded with proof of women who successfully
completed their stay in the Middle Eastern countries. Although,
the film portrays a couple of women who met with a devastating
fate, its general appeal was that of a positive connotation
and it is appropriately partial to the families that gained
The ignorant migrants, whose plight the film
also brought into light, were caught in the web of the middlemen.
In absence of government regulations and supervision, they were
sent overseas with forged passports and false contract papers
and then they had to take a U-turn, loosing money and property
in the process,-- property that they sold in the first place
to meet the demand of the dalal or the middlemen. As a whole,
the film explores avenues to make migration easier for one with
lesser or no opportunities in one's own socioeconomic setting.
The realities, in the film, emerge in all its
emotional shades. The narrator, the male voice that describes
the success and failures of women workers, emphatically draws
our attention to 'remittance'. It is significant to note that
remittance is a vast source of our foreign currency and women
can and are ready to take part in augmenting it.
In his address, the film's director Sharifuddin
Palash pointed out that it was made in a short period of time.
Still the film makes a strong case in support of the women migrants.
It calls our attention to how they can be facilitated with the
government support and how changes in policy towards migrant
women belonging to the lower strata of our society will benefit
the nation. T. Siddiqui, in her speech, mentioned the disparity
between the figures of official migrants which now stands at
one per cent only and the flux that goes on unofficially.
As for the still photographs displayed in the
makeshift cubicle in th middle of the auditorium, they primarily
focus on the internal migratory women. The day-labourers in
the outskirts of Dhaka, as well as in many other places, are
in action in most of the pictures. The realities that are hidden
from our sights, as we are lost in our day-to-day living, are
eloquently expressed in this show by two young photojournalist:
Momena Jalil and Azizur Rahman.
While covering a series of actions that bring
into view the lives of migrant workers within the country, they
resort to textual references. Each batch explores on-the-spot
survey of women workers in images backed by a text a short statement
that enable the viewers to know the workers by name and to see
them from their perspective.
After the documentary, the exhibition, that
is to go on for another two days, seemed a bit mellow in its
representation of realities. Perhaps still image has its own
way of engaging the viewers on a visual level only, which often
has a decontextualist effect.
Talking of decontexulity, the address of the
chief guest at the inauguration only reflected the perceptual
stutters and black holes that manifest in government's lack
of understanding the changing realities of this nation. The
secretary, Ministry of Expatriates' welfare and Overseas Employment,
Dalal Uddin Ahmed, as the chief guest had considerablly shook
the house while digressing to childhood memories, irrelevant
facts and figures, naive social as well as global views and
what not in weird, garbled English. The reason behind the roars
of laughter from the audience seemed as ambiguous as the speech.
The programme was presented under the rubric:
Migration and Media, yet in its construct the issue of the media
remained under-stressed. Had a portion of it been dedicated
only to the initiation of the journalists to the very concept
of how the subject of women migration needs media coverage to
nudge the government, perhaps then the organisers would not
have faced the puzzling queries from the members of the press
in the end. Few of them were inquiring about the link between
migration and media. A dialogue between the press and the organisers
could have helped things to get registered.