Archive for জানুয়ারি, 2009

Coffee shop of freedom for trafficking victims

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Human Rights

Kafé Mukti, a coffee shop of freedom was opened recently for the victims of human trafficking in the country to help them become self-reliant in life by providing them with jobs.

Four cafes managed by women victims of human trafficking were launched by International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Dhaka as a pilot project.

The first one was opened in North South University in Kemal Ataturk avenue in June last year. After its huge success three more cafes were opened on January 12.

Located in department of social welfare, department of women affairs and the secretariat building, these small coffee shops are already grabbing attention.

Eight women from shelter homes of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA) and Thengamara Mahila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS) were appointed at these coffee shops as managers and salesperson.

One of the managers of Kafe Mukti rescued from Jessore eight months ago said, “The biggest mistake of my life was to trust the wrong person with a bad intention. But I found hope after a long, long time. It feels as if I have been given a second chance in life”

Another lucky girl with a future plan said, “I plan to set things right now by using this opportunity. When I am ready I would like to buy some land and settled down”

Kafé Mukti is a venture of an IOM project “Prevention and Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking in Bangladesh”, which is supported by Bangladesh government, Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Dhaka. Nestle group provided with free coffee vending machines at these shops.

Zakia K Hassan, National Programme Officer of IOM said, “’As the name suggests, Kafé Mukti’ is a symbol of self reliance and economic emancipation of the oppressed women. We plan to develop the café as a model for empowerment of women trafficking victims in Bangladesh”

“The society usually isolates these women. By making them self-reliant we want to give them back their dignity and lost status in the society. Creating acceptance is also a goal”, she added.

More coffee shops will be opened soon, she said. However, in the future the project aims to venture in other areas of trade and business as well to incorporate these women in to the mainstream with ease, she mentioned.

These women are also being trained in management and accountancy to run the cafes. In the future they will be introduced to many other traits including laundry, salesmanship, beauty salon service and more, she said.

Grants will also be provided to help them step forward with the newly obtained knowledge.

Portion of the profit earned from the cafes will be given to the managers. Part of it will be used to further expand the project.

The initiative would inspire others to create similar opportunities for women facing oppression in the society, Hassan hoped.

The daily star 01.02.2009




Food prices and food security

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Food security

WE will have to … reduce price hike and improve people’s living standard,” said the prime minister at her first news conference after the landslide election victory. Since then, she and her senior ministers have repeatedly stressed that bringing down the prices of essentials within people’s purchasing power is a priority task for the government. This is not surprising given the importance most voters accorded to high prices in the lead up to the election.

The Awami League capitalised on voters’ concerns by pointing to its better record on this issue. Prices of essentials — the proverbial rice, lentil, cooking oil and salt — either remained virtually unchanged or fell between 1996 and 2001, while all prices rose under its rival (Chart 1). To put the price rises in context, a male farm labourer earned an average daily wage of 48 taka in 1996 (with which he could buy 3.1 kg of rice), 67 taka in 2001 (buying 4.3 kg of rice) and 95 taka in 2006 (buying 3.7 kg of rice).

It is no surprise, then, that the voters have overwhelmingly turned to AL for lower prices. But will AL be able to bring prices down, or at least stem the rate at which prices have been rising? And in the longer term, what does the government need to do to achieve food security — defined by the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as access to food products, particularly by poor people.

There are grounds for optimism as far as the near term outlook for agflation — food price inflation — is concerned. But drivers of agflation and food security are complex and multifaceted. This piece stresses that for food prices to stabilise, if not fall, and for us to achieve food security over the medium term, a lot more than “cracking down unscrupulous business syndicates” will be needed.

Jyoti Rahman is an applied macroeconomist.

The daily star 01.02.2009

A total of 501 people were killed across the country in different incidents, including 24 in political violence last month, according to a monthly crime-watch report.

Bangladesh Society for Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) revealed the figures yesterday in its survey based on newspaper reports as well as on reports and documentation of the society.

The report said a total of 136 people were killed in various social violence, while 239 were killed in different accidents.

Another 126 people were killed in incidents like crossfire, mysterious death, doctors’ negligence, death in jail custody, dowry and mass beating.

It found that a total of 902 people were arrested by law enforcers, while 88 were kidnapped, three of them by Indian Border Security Force personnel.

“Three children and four women fell victim of rape — three of them were killed after rape,” it added.

BSEHR compiled the report on the basis of stories run in different newspapers as well as on reports and documentation of the human rights group. It didn’t give any comparative findings on the incidence of such crimes.

The daily star 01.02.2009

‘Room to Read’ to provide edn for disadvantaged children

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Education

‘Room to Read’, an international organisation dedicated to providing education for disadvantaged children, launched its operation in Bangladesh yesterday.

The organisation will work in partnership with local communities to ensure quality education by setting up schools and libraries, publishing literary works for children in Bangla and establishing computer labs.

It currently operates in nine countries — Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, South Africa, Zambia and Bangladesh.

With the slogan ‘World change starts with educated children’, the organisation started its activities in 2000. It is an initiative of John Wood, who worked as Microsoft’s director of development for China before establishing the non-profit organisation.

Educationist Prof Muzaffer Ahmad presided over the launching ceremony while Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique was present as the chief guest.

Chairman of Bishaw Sahitya Kendra Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed, former primary and mass education adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury and Senior Education Advisor of DFID Barbara Payne also spoke as special guests at the launching ceremony at the Spectra Convention Centre in the city.

Polan Sarker of Bausa village in Rajshahi, who dedicated his life to enlightening people through developing their reading habits, described his experiences at the grassroots level.

Other speakers stressed the need to produce user-friendly and easy-to-understand books to further promote reading habits among children.

Since its establishment, the organisation has built 442 schools and over 5,630 libraries, published 226 new children’s books in local languages in the countries of operation, donated over 2.2 million English language books for children, financed 6,922 long-term scholarships for female students and established 155 computer and language labs, officials of the organisation said.

The organisation designs its programmes based on the needs of the country of work.

Room to Read encourages bilingual reading habit in libraries. Libraries established by the organisation usually display books written in English and local language.

The organisation also promotes creative writers and illustrators in the country it operates as source of new content and publishes their work in local languages to distribute throughout the network of Room to Read.

The daily star 01.02.2009

State recognition to ‘sign language’ likely today

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Education

The long-cherished dream of the hearing impaired community for a state recognition of ‘sign language’ is likely to be materialised today.

A source in the social welfare ministry seeking anonymity said, “The government is seriously thinking of materialising the demand which may become public through the inauguration of the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair at Bangla Academy through the declaration by the prime minister.”

The deaf community leaders said giving state recognition to sign language through inclusion of sign language in all mainstream activities of the society and to contribute for nation building.

Bangladesh National Federation of the Deaf (BNFD) founder of Harunar Rashid Khan said, “Deaf people face the tough problems in the courts due to lack of interpreters. Cases of any deaf people remain unsettled due to such problems.”

MI Chowdhury, founder member, said, “If the government trains up the government schoolteachers for deaf people, it can save money of establishing specialised schools, adding: “Such initiative will help general students to develop awareness of these special students.”

According to BNFD, the number of deaf people in the country is 26 lakh. In 2005, a NFOWD study conducted on 12,000 people of six divisions found that 5.6 percent people are disabled and 22.5 percent of them hearing and speech impaired.

Without 10 schools for these people, the government has no contribution to the deaf people. Out of the schools, nine are under the ministry of social welfare and one under the local government ministry.

There are only two secondary-level schools for deaf people. The oldest deaf school at secondary level in Rajshahi faced closure due to lack of fund. There are seven non-government primary schools for these people.

The daily star 01.02.2009

Compulsory edn up to SSC by 2012

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Education, Primary Education

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid yesterday said the government is resolute to enforce compulsory education up to Secondary School Certificate (SSC) level by 2012.

Steps would be taken soon to implement the programme, he said, adding: “We would take measures to remove illiteracy from people up to 45 years age.”

Nurul was addressing a meeting at Beanibazar Govt College playground with upazila AL President Abdul Hasib in the chair.

To face the huge and multiple challenges of the new world, the minister said the country’s total education system needs a big change immediately.

“We would formulate an education policy within months on the basis of the Kudrat-E-Khuda Commission report of 1974,” Nahid said, adding that it would help greatly in eradicating illiteracy.

While the AL was in power in the past regime, a pro-people draft education policy was prepared but the BNP-led alliance put things in balance and took measures in this regard, he added.

He further said that the government would also try to introduce a unified primary education system throughout the country in place of the existing different types of education to end the huge discrimination in the primary education sector.

Upazila Chairman-elect Abdul Khalique Mayon and Vice Chairman-elect Ruma Chakravarty also spoke at the programme.

The daily star 01.02.2009

Poor father commits suicide to protect daughter

Posted: জানুয়ারি 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

Madhab Chandra Bagani has committed suicide in remote Badarkhali village. Neighbours say he failed to endure the indignation and harassment perpetrated for refusing the hand of his minor schoolgirl to a notorious man.

Anju Rani, his widow, complained in writing that her eldest daughter Shyamoli Rani is student of class VII in Phuljhuri High School. Matchmaker Tapan Kumar Roy of the same village pressed them to give her marriage to Milon Gomasta of Kalomegha village in Patharghata upazila.

In two minds, Madhab went to Kalomegha where residents informed him that Milon is a notorious man who recently divorced his first wife.

On return home he informed his decision to the matchmaker of cancellation of the marriage proposal. But under influence of money the matchmaker brought Milon and others as bridal party on December 15.

He mobilised the village elders and an arbitration meeting fined Madhab Tk 10,000 of which Tk 3,000 was extracted on the spot for breaking the match.

Matchmaker Tapan did not stop at that. He declared of spreading rumuours across the villages and see the girl is never married.

The same night defamed and distressed Madhab swallowed poison. Rushed to Barguna General Hospital but died the following day.

The death of Madhab had unnerved the arbitrators. Apprehensive of murder charge they went to UP chairman Ziaul Ahsan Hiru to settle the matter outside the court.

It was decided that the matchmaker and arbitrators will pay Tk 1 lakh as compensation to the widow of Madhav and an accord was signed on Tk 150 stamp. But the compensation has not been paid.

UP chairman admitted of the compensation accord and UP woman member Parveen also admitted of her presence in the arbitration meeting that fined poor Madhab.

Barguna police said they would proceed with the case after receiving the autopsy report of Madhab from the hospital.

Anju Rani and her four minor children are under threat of matchmaker Tapan Roy and the village arbitrators.

The daily star 01.02.2009