New Internationalist

Sameera Huque

June 2003

At the tender age of 16, Alamtaz Begum became a muktijoddha (freedom fighter) for Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971. When I met her in 2000, she lived in a two-room flat with a sister, two daughters and granddaughter.

Nearly 30 years after the war ended she was still fighting – for a decent livelihood, independent life and the future of her daughters and grandchild.

A large number of women fought for Bangladesh’s independence, but we recognize only a few names. The label of muktijoddha is sold on certificates and used to garner political weight, while those who actually fought go unnoticed. Recently, newspapers in Dhaka published accounts of a veterans’ organization trying to discredit the most decorated woman muktijoddha, Taramon Bibi.

In media that portray women largely as victims or pin-ups, we desperately need stories of ordinary Bangladeshi women who have beaten the odds.

Alamtaz’s story is one among hundreds of thousands that tell of the immense sacrifice and courage women have shown in their daily struggle, year after year. There are no medals, awards, holidays or plaques named after them.

Sameera Huque, Bangladesh
By arrangement with
Drik Picture Library Ltd

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 357 This column was published in the June 2003 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 357

New Internationalist Magazine issue 357
Issue 357

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