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4th Annual Bangabandhu Lecture held in London: Support Birangonas & war babies


Muhammed Shahed Rahman:


Professor Nayanika Mookherjee, who was speaking as a keynote presenter at the 4thAnnual Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Lecture held virtually on 10 March 2022 organised by the 7 March Foundation in association with South Asia Institute, SOAS, University of London and Bangladesh High Commission in London, said to get Bangladesh’s genocide recognised Birangonasand their families should be supported and war babies offered rights.

Durham University Professor Nayanika Mookherjee’s keynote lecture was titled ‘Historicising the Birangona: Tracing the past, present and future trajectories of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971’.

Professor Nayanika Mookherjee, in her speech, stated that in 1971, in an internationally unprecedented move till date, the Bangladesh government publicly referred to the women raped by the Pakistani military and their local collaborators during the Bangladesh War of 1971, as Birangonas (war heroines). There exists a public memory of wartime rape from 1971 till today through the innumerable literary and visual representations of the Birangona as well as testimonies. Her lecture examined the processes through which Birangonas have been historicised, the testimonial processes through which narratives of sexual violence is recorded and the limited lens of silence, voice, shame, honour and stigma, through which sexual violence is commonly understood. The lecture reflected on the past, present and future trajectories of the Bangladesh war of 1971 to reflect on the theorisations of genocide and irreconciliation within historical and contemporary contexts.

She ended her talk by recommending support to Birangonas and their families and offering rights, including citizenship, documents, to war babies.

Prof Edward Simpson, Director of the SOAS South Asia Institute, University of London, chaired the event, and opening remarks were made by the Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem & Ansar Ahmed Ullah, General Secretary of 7th March Foundation. A vote of thanks was provided by Nooruddin Ahmed, Chairperson of the 7thMarch Foundation.