A CLOSE LOOK

Purnima proves a few points for her and her kind

Nilratan Halder | Published: January 20, 2018 00:20:47


Purnima Rani Shil with State Minister for Information Tarana Halim

Purnima Rani Sheel, the girl from Ullapara in Sirajganj, has conquered the evil of the vilest form. The 14-year old girl's transition from the most abject state of life to a woman of 32 years and the position of personal secretary of Tarana Halim, state minister for information is a tale of both sorrow and joy. Her life's journey is a lesson for girls-and should have been more so for fiendish men forcibly prevailing upon women-in a country fast turning hostage to sex perverts. In Purnima's case, rape-nay gang rape-was also used as a weapon of political vendetta on the minority community. Or, whoever has ever heard of a winning political alliance unleashing violence on the opposition with selective sexual violence on girls and women of the minority community? After its election victory, the BNP-Jamaat alliance carried out such a nauseating attack. Purnima was a student of class X at the time the 2001 national polls were held.

She was targeted for attack because she was a female polling agent of the Awami League and protested forcible stamping of seals for the opponent's candidate at her polling centre. After election results, hundreds of followers of the winning candidate attacked Purnima's home. Every member of the family sustained physical injuries-her mother more than others as she was left with a broken hand. But it was Purnima who paid the greatest price of all. About a dozen young men picked her up and she was gang-raped by them. She made screaming headlines for the barbarity she suffered. Thanks to a few kind and brave men, the unconscious girl was taken to hospital for treatment. The girl survived the brutality.

For a period the girl became the ravaged face of this country. Wahedul Huq and Shariar Kabir brought her to Dhaka and the former took responsibility for the girl's education and other needs. A graduate, Purnima has expressed her gratitude to all who rescued her and took her to hospital for treatment and then helped her become what she is today. She has also expressed her indebtedness to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Yes, a girl in her position needs not material helps alone but also love and care in order to overcome her trauma. But what has been so remarkable is her bold statement, "Why should I feel ashamed? It is the shame of the perpetrators and society. What remains unuttered here is the shame of the male kind which not just in this land but all across the world is prone to attacking its opposite kind for physical satisfaction. Weinstein Harvey case and the following "Me Too" (hashtag) not only highlight the pathological disorder in apparently sophisticated male members society but also the bizarre conducts and intrigues men are used to resorting to.

In the insect world, there are a few species the female of which devours the male at the time of physical union. The head gets eaten when the body of the male is still active. The male of the human kind is predatory in nature. But this instinct is abused on this or that pretext simply because the opposite gender is defenceless. It highlights how savage the civilisation is.

Purnima has risen from ashes and her rise should be commended because she has fought against the vilest form of women repression imaginable. Falling victim to sexual aggression, girls of tender age often commit suicides. They should not. If society had zero tolerance to rapists and justice were not delayed, the cancerous disease could not have spread like the way it has. The legal system should be tuned to promptly dealing with sexual aggression so that the perpetrators are brought to book as early as possible and made to suffer the worst terms for the crime.

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