Category Archives: Bangladesh

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

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
16 December
By Sushmita Preetha

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: https://www.svd.se/sharmin-syr-dina-jeans–vi-maste-jobba-dodssjuka

Postcard from Bangladesh

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.

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: https://www.ottar.se/artiklar/banbrytande-lesbiskt-i-bangladesh

Tensions rise in enormous refugee camp

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
24 August 2018
By Sushmita Preetha

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: https://www.svd.se/motsattningar-kokar-i-gigantiska-flyktinglagret

She sews your clothes

Article published in Fönstret
May 15, 2017
By Sushmita Preetha

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?

Article published in Fönstret, 15 May 2017. Full article  (in Swedish) here: http://www.fonstret.se/Artikelarkivet/Reportage/Hon-syr-dina-klader/

Pressure to succeed

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
12 September 2016
By Sushmita Preetha

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.

But despite the dominating role his mother plays in his daily life Ummayer does not seem to resent her.

-She wants what’s best for me and I love her for it, he says. My dad is more relaxed.

16-year old Rabeya Akther lives in a different part of Dhaka. Hers and Ummayer’s lives are not that far apart geographically speaking, but it is when it comes to economical conditions. Rabeya has always helped her mother with the daily chores. Her mother works as a housekeeper for other families and is often late home from work.

-I have to contribute with what I can at home. My parents work so hard in order to give me and my brother the best possible options and for us to go to school. When my mother comes home after having done the house work for four families I don’t like seeing her doing even more work, says Rabeya who is in the 10th grade at school.

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet 12/9, 2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: https://www.svd.se/pressad-hemifran-att-lyckas-i-livet/om/idagsidan