Artistic boat helps save River Dolphin

A curious form bobs its snout among cargo ships on the river Rupsha in Khulna in southwestern Bangladesh. It’s a boat shaped as a River Dolphin,  fashioned out of palms from the world’s largest mangrove forest, the nearby Sundarbans. The craft  was made to dramatise the importance of dolphin conservation to people in the wetlands.

The globally endangered River Dolphin – shushuk in Bangla – is under threat from overfishing, entanglement in nets, and increasing pollution caused by uncontrolled development. The latter has also made it difficult for fisherfolk to earn their living. Livelihoods and dolphins are both at risk, and conservationists believe local people can play a crucial role in saving the dolphin. 

The boat acts as a gallery for exhibiting photographs of dolphins, as a makeshift stage for puppeteers, and as an arts and crafts classroom. The chance to paint and make attracts villagers otherwise weary of NGO workers coming from the cities to “teach” them how to lead their lives.

/Sushmita Preetha,  Khulna.

The postcards from journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot  website.

Sharmin makes your jeans – “We have to work even when mortally ill”

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, from the series Hon jobbar för dig (She works for you)
16 December 2018
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Taslima Akhter

Your jeans might be made by Sharmin Akhter.  Her wages support her entire family – including her husband. From entering the factory as a curious 12-year-old, she’s now a tired 35-year-old who sews clothes for famous fashion brands and desperately longs for some rest.

Full article (in Swedish) here:–vi-maste-jobba-dodssjuka

Groundbreaking lesbians in Bangladesh

Article published in Ottar
29 September 2018
By Sushmita Preetha

Three years ago, the activists of Boys of Bangladesh launched Dhee – the country’s first graphic novel that explores sexuality and love beyond the norm. For security reasons the movement went underground after the murders of two gay activists and journalists in April 2016, but the group are now continuing their work.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

Tensions rise in enormous refugee camp

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
24 August 2018
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Anisur Rahman

Bangladesh. When the military systematically murdered, raped, and plundered the minority group rohingya in Rakine in Myanmar, around 700 000 people fled to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh.

There they were at first received with open arms, but now, a year later, many locals have grown tired of the refugees – and the fight for the already limited resources has toughened.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

She sews your clothes

Article published in Fönstret
15 May 2017
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Taslima Akhter

Bangladesh. Renu Begum started working in a sweatshop in Dhaka as a twelve year old, and barely remembers what her life looked like before then. She is a widow and the sole provider for her children, so she works as much as she can but on her meagre salary it is difficult to make ends meet. She has to work overtime every day.

The working days are long. Renu knows she sews clothes for many different brands but cannot read the labels. However, she can read the price tags and is amazed by how the clothes can be so expensive when her salary is so low?

Full article  (in Swedish) here:

Pressure to succeed

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, from the series Att vara förälder (To be a parent)
12 September 2016
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Taslima Akhter

Dhaka, Bangladesh. Painting is 14-year old Umayer Itmam’s passion, and if he was free to choose he would study art or architecture, but he’s obeying his mother’s wish for him to become a doctor like her. She makes sure he doesn’t “waste” his time but follows a strict study schedule.

“I have to follow a strict routine. I have a one hour break for lunch and a shower. Then I have a two hour break in the afternoon and one hour for dinner. Apart from that I have to study the whole time”, says Ummayer.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

Women violently punished

Article published in Expressen
16 May 2016
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Prabir Das /  Dipa Mahbuba Yasmin / Taslima Akhter

Bangladesh. Sara Hossain has been a solicitor at the Supreme Court in Bangladesh since 1992, and she is one of the strongest voices against ingrained patriarchal structures within the country’s juridical system.

Earlier this year, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award from the American Foreign Office for her achievements. One of the reasons for her nomination was her victory in her fight against the fatwa, a religious decree issued by muslim scholars and often used in village courts to motivate violence against women. Through the fatwas, women are publicly punished for things like rape, infidelity, and extramarital pregnancies. The punishments range from shaving the woman’s hair off and social exclusion to whipping and stoning.

Full article (in Swedish) here:–sara-hossain-leder-kampen-mot/

Terror after wave of brutal killings in Bangladesh

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
3 May 2016
By Sushmita Preetha
Photos: Taslima Akhter

 Roopban is the first magazine for HBTQ people in Bangladesh, and its headquarters has turned into a murder scene. The 25 April, Roopban’s editor Xulhas Mannan and his friend Tanay Majumdar were murdered and dismembered. The local militia group Ansar al-Islam, who is said to have connections to al-Qaida, have claimed responsibiity for the murders. Their motivation being that Xulhus and Tanay worked to promote homosexuality.

Full article (in Swedish) here::


Fight for textile workers’ rights

Article published in Göteborgsposten
24 May 2015
By Sushmita Preetha

Bangladesh. Two years have passed since the garment factory Rana Plaza collapsed. Taslima Akhtar can still hear the screams from the thousands of workers who got trapped under the remains of the nine storey building.

Taslima is a unionist and a co-ordinator for an organisation that fights for textile workers rights. The place where Rana Plaza stood is a constant reminder of how fragile their lives are.

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