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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'Create alternative jobs for Harijans'

Source: The Daily Star News

Speakers have called for creating alternative job opportunities for Harijans, who have been stuck in the profession of cleaning roads and offices for almost 200 years without any recognition from society.

They called on Harijans to send their children to schools and prepare them for future, which shows huge potential of increased employment in the community, which already faces competition with the mainstream people.

Harijans have urged the government for minimum 80 percent quota in cleaning jobs for them at city corporations and government offices as well as providing basic rights enshrined in the constitution.

The speakers made the call at the orientation of the newly elected central committee of Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad at Cirdap auditorium in the city.

A 101-member committee comprising representatives from across the county made their first appearance yesterday.

Krishnalal, chairperson of Bangladesh Harijan Oikya Parishad, said: “We keep the city clean and for that occupation we are considered as untouchables. Our children receive formal education, but they do not get jobs because of their identity as Harijans.”

About 15 lakh traditional sweepers, also known as Jaat sweepers, are originally descendants of immigrants from Kanpur, Nagpur and Andhra Pradesh of India, brought in 1830s during the British rule to provide all sorts of menial services for colonial rulers.

Their jobs include sweeping the streets and offices, clearing clogs in the sewerage lines, cleaning up manholes, water reservoirs, hospital wastes and handling carcasses. Many of them are employed in crematoriums.

Human rights activist barrister Sara Hossain said the national constitution ensures that no one will be subjected to caste-based discrimination and that the disadvantaged communities can demand special support programme from the government.

Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said Harijans must respect themselves first, then others will respect them and they must educate their community to this end.

Whip Shagufta Yasmin MP, Babu Kailash Das Hela, chief adviser of the parishad, and Nirmal Chandra Das, secretary general, also spoke.

14 girls kill themselves in 4 months

Source: The Daily Star News

At least 14 girls and the father of a stalking victim committed suicide during the last four and half months, data shows.

And three men were killed and four others were tortured for protesting at stalking by local youths this year.

Sayeed Ahmed, senior coordinator, Media and International Advocacy of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), presented these facts during a discussion at Shilpakala Academy in the capital.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, as the chief guest, said the government would observe June 3 as a day of campaign against stalking.

Rally, procession and discussion will be held on that day at all academic institutions across the country.

He urged all to work together and wage social movement to stop stalking. “Social values and awareness can prevent stalking and ensure women's easy movement.”

Nahid said the ministry has a plan to include texts addressing such issues in school curriculum.

The teachers would also be trained on social issues to counsel students, he said.

Nahid called upon the religious leaders to play an active role in resisting stalkers.

Sultana Kamal, the executive director of ASK, said political parties should come forward to resist stalking. There are instances where stalkers have taken shelter of the political leaders, she said.

“So, apolitical movement is needed to stop stalking.”

The meeting recommended forming forum comprising school authorities and guardians to protect girls from stalkers.

Participants at the discussion titled “Our Responsibilities to Prevent Stalking” also recommended setting complaint centres at all institutions by issuing circular from the education ministry.

They urged to define stalking and enforce law against it.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Noor Muhammad as a special guest said the police department already initiated some moves to prevent stalking.

ASK Chairperson Hameeda Hossain chaired the discussion.