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     Volume 6 Issue 10 | March 16, 2007 |

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Media and Our Society
It was interesting to note how despite how much more progressive Western society is made out to be, women's portrayal in the media stays along the lines of the 'virgin whore' dichotomy. When will they have a middle ground for women like us? I love living alone in NY, go to the gym, pour over fashion spreads in magazines, apply makeup diligently. I do this because I believe caring about my looks will only add to my courtroom performance, hoping that as the jury is persuaded by my elegant argument they will be more responsive to it coming from a pleasing looking advocate. Looking good is just another tool for a female lawyer as it garners confidence, but it's far from a single-minded preoccupation amongst strong, professional women.
It's sad and it bothers me when I still get comments from male co counsel, stating "what are you worried about, you can get married and the JD is just another pretty accessory for you!" That's a choice that we have and it bothers men. Not only can we raise children and be homemakers but we can also be members of the press, the Bar, the CEOs of major companies. Males traditionally have been threatened by intelligent women and the media focus is an outcrop of that. There is nothing wrong with being a product user and knowing all the facts about it as well, yet there is a major uphill battle to fight those stereotypes and portray the modern women like ourselves.
Shammari S. Islam

'Still In the Dark'
I must thank the SWM and Nader Rahman for a worthwhile cover story 'Still in the Dark' (March 2, 2007). Power shortage has become a major crisis in our country. The current state of power failure has beaten all previous records. This has a very negative impact on our economy. I really appreciate the present care taker government's commendable step on introducing the new shopping schedule. We don't want to see a repetition of Kansat in the future.
Shimul Chowdhury
Dept. of Biotechnology
Islamic University, Kushtia

Please Do Not Pressurize the Caretaker Government
The people of the country really need this kind of honest and effective leadership that the present caretaker government is providing. Unfortunately, the leaders of the two main parties are demanding an immediate election. They obviously feel threatened by the steps taken against their corrupt leaders. It seems that without the presence of these corrupt party leaders, the parties are not confident about winning the election. There is little controversy that these parties are largely based on support from dishonest and corrupt politicians. They have polluted our politics and are responsible for losing the faith of the people.
It is extremely important that the preconditions of a fair and free election are met before going into an 'election-festival', spend public money and invite post-election violence. So far, the current government is doing that job satisfactorily. I urge them to stick to its policy and not to bow down to any pressure.
Parvez Monon Ashraf
Dallas, Texas, USA

Illegal dwelling destruction and black marketers
In Bangladesh we choose our leaders through a democratic process of election. But what are the principles that guide these leaders? Do they ever consider the interest of the country?
The present caretaker government along with the army have started demolishing illegal structures and arresting the corrupt political leaders. The big question is why our elected governments did not do this. Since the elected leaders themselves were criminals we are in a quandary as to who we should vote for in coming election?
At the same time, while it is very commendable that the hawkers have evicted from the footpath, it is really the government's responsibility to help them set up alternative modes to make a living.
The emergency situation has brought about a great change in every sector. But does that mean that we are only capable of running under corruption-free rule in an emergency situation and that democracy is a far cry for us?
Mehezanul Ferdows Lubna
English Department
Chittagong University

Religious Stupidity
Last Friday I was watching an Islamic programme on ATN Bangla. An Imam was criticising the celebration of Valentines Day and explained beautifully how Islam as complete code of life ordered us to show our love to our parents throughout the year.
The real shock came when he said that it was forbidden for Muslims to celebrate days like 21st February, going to the Shahid Minar and paying homage to martyrs with flowers and singing, 'Amar bhai-er rokte rangano...!' Quoting different lines from the Holy Quran he tried to prove that except for the two Eid festivals and Shab-e-Qad'r, all kinds of celebrations of special days is totally prohibited and termed them 'anti-Islam' activities. I was really surprised that a channel like ATN Bangla took some barely literate on Islam to discuss such matters while they themselves telecast special programmes on February 21st.
Shakawat Hossain
B.Com, Department of Accounting
Govt. City College, Chittagong

No Steps Yet to Reduce Pollution
The government is yet to adopt any firm policy to reduce pollution arising from tanneries, pharmaceuticals, chemical and dying factories that are releasing highly toxic untreated wastes everyday contaminating land, air and water.
Million of gallons of untreated wastes from around 7,000 industries are polluting all the four rivers, canals and low-lying areas around the city posing a major environmental threat. Environmentalists warn that the extremely polluted waters might trigger an epidemic anytime during the dry winter season, when the river waters are stagnant according to a survey of more than 7000 factories located along the rivers and canals in Dhaka.
These industries excluding the Hazaribagh tanneries discharge more than 60 million litres of toxic waste every day into our waters, land and air. The Hazaribagh tanneries add to the massive pollution by pumping an additional 7.7 million litres of highly toxic liquid wastes directly in to the nearby canals and the river Buriganga. Tanneries also dump 135 tonnes of solid wastes into the river everyday. Factories in the Tejgaon industrial area drain wastes into the Begunbari canal that winds its way into Norai canal and the river Balu.
There is a severe shortage of manpower to handle the situation. In Dhaka there are only three inspectors, five junior and senior chemists to monitor the industries. The government should take some effective and emergency steps to reduce pollution so that the people of this city can live well.
S. Rashid Nice
Dept. of English
Lalmatia Girls College, Dhaka

An Unimportant Question
About five months ago, I went to Naogaon for my cousin's wedding. On the journey something fishy caught my eyes. The speedometer of the bus I was travelling in was not working. Afterwards I saw this event repeatedly in different buses of the same company. I assumed that they somehow unplugged the speedometer.
Though the driving was unquestionably safe, is it not a crime to drive without a speedometer? I asked about this to many people, but did not get any satisfactory answers. It seems that no one bothers about such 'unimportant' matters. I was wondering if SWM could answer this query.
Md. Towfiqul Islam
Dept. of Soil, Water & Environment
Dhaka University

It was amusing (if not ironic) to read all the analyses of 'objectification and commoditisation of woman' (SWM, March 9, 2007) and watching the sporting (or vulgar according to Fariha Sultana, Uttara, Dhaka on the letters page) cover of the just previous issue of SWM (February 23, 2007). First we should change our own attitude and then preach. Respect for woman should not be something practiced only on one particular day.
A.K.M. Saifuddin

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