War Crimes Overlooked, Dhaka Students Take Action

DHAKA, BANGLADESH--

It all started with a simple message I sent to Miss Sara Darehshori on Facebook. 

I saw the trailer for "The Uncondemned" [in July 2014] and was inspired by the strength and determination she showed along with Pierre Prosper, Patricia Sellers and Binaifer Nowrojee in the prosecution of rape as a war crime for the first time in the world. Even though I was born to a country that had to see genocide for independence, it has been only a few years since I’ve been enlightened on the issue and started working towards transforming the perception of the rape victims in the Bangladeshi society. 

Through Sara, I was introduced to Michele Mitchell, co-director of the film. The trailer had an impact on me, and I knew that I needed to have more people see and understand, and to  help this message spread even further. It took the world too long to recognize rape as a tactic of war as a war crime. Acknowledgement of the gravity of this heinous crime, its impact on communities and the necessity to be rid of the stigma society associates with the victims unfortunately still has a long way to go. 

We had  two successful screenings of film excerpts, one which included the entire department of criminology (I am in the first class that will graduate). And we reached out via social media to numerous Bangladeshis; we engaged in a Q/A session with Michele herself via Skype. That brought about a longer, more in-depth discussion among my fellow students. who were further enlightened. 

All the way here from Bangladesh, we are eagerly waiting for the film, because as the message the film sends out is one that we can call our own. We stand for no impunity, and we strive for the rehabilitation of the rape victims in war. I firmly believe that one day soon, they will be rid of the stigma our society has surrounded them with, but that it will require our constant support, struggle and determination. We will help spread this message across borders, to all parts of the world.

---Sumaiya Iqbal

Sumaiya Iqbal is class of 2018 in the Criminology Department of the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.