Jharna Basu Halder, Barasat, Kolkata
Jharna left Bangladesh in 1978. She never thought she would have to leave her own country. After the founder of the nation was assassinated in 1975, she witnessed collaborators of the Pakistan Army being rehabilitated politically and socially in independent Bangladesh. One day, she mistook someone for the collaborator who brought to her house soldiers who raped her. Jharna couldn’t bear to live in fear, so she left the country.
Amina Begum, Mukhlesa Begum, and Maleka Begum, Ranishoinkul
Three of four sisters. All four siblings were taken to rape camps by the Pakistani
army and kept for more than six months. The youngest sister died shortly after
liberation owing to internal injuries and infection. When the war ended, they were
not accepted in their village. They were beaten up and thrown out of their homes by
the police and the villagers. Mukhlesa Begum died on the 10th of September, 2016 and
Maleka Begum died on the 5th of October 2018 at their home in Ranishoinkul.
Raju Bala, Shodanandapur
Aged 23-24 at the time of the War, Raju witnessed the murder of her child, aged 2 years old, and was raped repeatedly by soldiers in front of her husband. Following the end of the War, Raju was ostracised by her in-laws, but her husband stood by her. Rajubala died on the 11th of December, 2017 in her home at Shodanandapur, Sirajganj.
Shurjyo Begum, Sirajganj
Aged 16-17 during the War, Shurjyo was married off overnight when the Army set up camps in her village. Villagers warned her father that if she wasn’t married, she would be taken away. For the rest of her life, Shurjyo could still hear the sound of the Pakistan army’s boots. She could still see them coming. Shurjyo Begum died on the 14th of March 2017 at her home in Sirajganj.
Chaindau Marma, Mohalchhari
Chaindau was kept in a rape camp for 6 months. She used to be taken from camp to camp as a sex slave. Chaindau was an indigenous casualty of war, although she was not the only one. The rape of indigenous women is a little-known fact even amongst those who have worked on the Birangona issue. Chaindau Marma died on the 29th of July, 2016 in her home at Thalipara, Mohalchhari.
Tepri Bewa, Thakurgaon
Tepri was married at the time of the War. Her family gave her up to the soldiers to save their lives. When she was released, she was pregnant. Her family and villagers wanted her to abort the child, but she decided to keep it. Sudhir, her son, agreed to be filmed to discuss his life as a child of war.
Rijia Begum, Fakinnir Bazaar Slum, Dhaka
Rijia was aged 27 during the War. Her husband went missing, and she was caught when she went looking for him. After a few days, she was found unconscious in a dump-yard. She has a daughter and grandchildren and she lives with them in a slum in Dhaka city. Rijia used to work as a cleaner in a market. Every other day, she goes to her local bazaar and speaks her mind. She does not care that people don’t bother to listen to what she has to say.