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     Volume 8 Issue 90 | October 16, 2009 |

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Women in Black

Moon Moon Sultana

The female Rab members in their smart garb are seen sometimes on the streets or important and vulnerable spots
across the country are all Bn Ansars.

Twenty-Seven-Year old Shanti Akter (not real name) of Deviddar Upazila of Comilla dreamed of being a member of uniform service since her early childhood. Very clearly she knew it would remain a mere dream for a little educated rural girl like herself.

“Once upon a time in my early childhood while passing by a police station in my locality with my mother, I was amazed by the sight of a uniformed policewomen at the police station,” says Shanti and adds, “since then I cherished the dream of a uniform service although I knew my dreams would never ever come true.”

The simple wish however, was granted and in the course of time Shanti became a member of the country's elite force, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).

She feels proud when people look at her when she is in uniform and feels empowered to be a member of a force that is still dominated by men.

It was only possible for her to become a gallant member of the elite force after joining Ansar and Village Defense Party (VDP) Organisation as Battalion (Bn) Ansar back in 2005.

At present, Shanti is working in Rab-9 headquarters in Sylhet for over three years on deputation. Like Shanti, another 145 female Bn Ansars are deployed in all Rab headquarters around the country including the capital.

The female Rab members in their smart garb are seen sometimes on the streets or important and vulnerable spots across the country are all Bn Ansars.

Commanding Officer (CO) of female (Bn) Ansar 1. Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury says that after the formation of the female Bn Ansars in 2005, the Ansar-VDP Organisation has been sending female Bn Ansars to Rab on deputation along with the male ones.

“There is a great demand for women Bn Ansars in Rab, since it's not possible for any other disciplined force to provide as many as female troops on such special requirement,” she says adding, “moreover, as Bn members, our female troops are efficient enough to perform the special tasks as per the authorities' demand.”

Like Shanti, Dipti Rani (not real name), 28, of Patia Upazila in Chittagong also joined Bn Ansar allured by the charm of the uniform and arms carried by a soldier. After passing SSC being informed by a family friend who was an Upazila Instructor (UI) of Ansar and VDP Organisation, she decided to join Bn Ansar.

“Actually I needed a job then as it was quite impossible for my parents to bear the expenses of my education further due to poverty,'' she says adding, “and you know, I truly wanted to see myself in uniform, so I applied and qualified myself in both written and viva exams and now I am here in Rab-9 headquarters, Sylhet on deputation.”

Female Bn Ansar 1 was formed with 404 members in April 4, 2005 as per government order out of necessity for a disciplined women force and to help underpriviliged rural women get employment.

Recently, Ansar-VDP Organisation has formed another all-women battalion due to increasing demand of different government organisations including Rab and Police.

Female Bn Ansar 2 started its operation in February this year with another group of 404 members after a six-month tough military training in two phases including recruit and basic training at Ansar-VPD Training Academy in Shafipur, Gazipur.

It is quite encouraging to see the spirit and courage of these young rural who willingly and spontaneously receive the hardships of rigorous physical training including weapons and related academic training.

So what inspires these women to join Bn Ansar and endure the hardship of training? A member of newly formed female Bn Ansar 2 proudly replies, “I wish to work in Rab and there is a lot more opportunities to closely look at the VIPs on different occasions.”

Unlike these young women of Bn Ansar Monira Begum (not real name), 24, of female Bn Ansar 1 who has recently been deployed in Rab-10 headquarters at Jatrabari in the capital, joined Bn Ansar allured by the charm of government service.

“After appearing for me SSC I started searching for a government job,” Monira says. “Although I knew it wouldn't be easy with such little education and as I was not interested to study more; however, luck favoured me, I managed to pass the selection test,” she adds.

At present, Monira is a member of the country's elite force. After being selected in Rab she had to receive a 42-day 'Rab Basic Course' in Rab Training School in Gazipur.

There she received intensive training on weapons and physical fitness including academic training on intelligence, investigation, security measures and rules and regulations.

She performs special tasks of operation and information collection along with regimental Police (RP) duty at Rab-10 headquarter everyday for six hours on shifting basis from 6:00am to 7:00pm except government holidays.

These women troops in Rab however, are always on duty round the clock on special occasions when they are assigned for social, religious and political programmes round the year.

“Besides, we work at the reception desk, computer section, library in headquarters and execute patrolling around its territory,” Monira adds.

She feels very proud of being a member of Ansar and VDP Organisation as this Organisation has paved the way for a better future for her. “As I've no financial problem now, I'm planning to sit for the HSC examination under the Open University like many of my fellow mates,” she says.

Good salary packages including family ration, paid leave and medical facilities of Bn Ansar have made these jobs very attractive to rural women who are less privileged and wish to take a challenging and respected life.

Anyone having physical fitness an academic record of at least Class-XI with board registration aged between 18-30 years old are eligible to apply for Bn Ansar and become a member following the required written, viva and police verification.

Photo courtesy and special thanks to Md Fakrul Islam, Deputy Director and Range Commander, Bangladesh Ansar-VDP Sylhet Range, Sylhet.



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