Narinjara News


Eve Teasing leaves Burmese refugee girl and brother out of school in Bangladesh

Dhaka, 22nd July 03:
A Burmese refugee teenage girl, in a Dhaka English Medium School named Darland International School has stopped going to school since 13th of this month to escape some eve teasers in Mirpur area where she lives with her family.  Thunn Mra Khaing, aged 16, is an eighth grader, intelligent and with good grades in the exams having good sense of humour.  She comes of a Burmese Rakhine Buddhist background.  Recently Narinjara interviewed her.  Excerpts are:

Narinjara: Why have you stopped going to school?
Thunn Mra Khaing: Before telling why I have stopped going to school, I think I have to make some clarifications first.  Four Bengali Muslim boys in the area whose name and identity I donít know have for some time been teasing me on my way to and back from school.  They are not from our school, either.  I again and again made protest to them for their bullying moves.   But day by day they have become more and more aggressive for which I had no other option than stopping going to school.

N: Donít your parents take you to school, then, for taking care of your personal safety?
TMK:  My mother took me to school in a few occasions.  But one day the boys came face to face with us.  My mother asked them why they were disturbing me.  One of the boys became hostile and replied in a threatening tone that they would see us, and that the consequences would not be good if their moves are challenged.  He was about to attack my mother, even.  When I confronted them and asked if they didnít have sisters and mothers the boys came to attack me!  With acts of violence and terrorism so rampant all around in Dhaka city I have every reason to fear for my personal safety and life.

N:     Havenít you ever complained it to the UNHCR in Dhaka?
TMK:    The activities of the UNHCR are supervised by the RCSU (Refugees Counselling and Supervision Unit) of the Ahsania Mission in Dhaka.  My parents have for six times complained it to the RCSU that I have been subjected to eve teasing and threatened with murder.  The RCSU just suggested us to move to a new house and stop having problems with the citizens of Bangladesh, without offering any kind of security.  Till now there has been no solution to the problem.

N:  Havenít you taken the matter to the school authority?
TMK:  Of course, I have. When complaining the matter to my teachers they suggested avoiding those thugs.  I donít know how to avoid them since the boys lie in wait for my going to school.  On more than one occasions these boys came to our school and hurled Molotov cocktails to terrorise all.  The teachers themselves are afraid of these thugs.  So I donít know how or what protection can our teachers give me.

N:  What about your brothers who go to school with you?
TMK:  The thugs on a number of times have made physical attack on my elder brother.  Once my brother suffered a bloody nose.  My elder brother has also stopped going to school for fear of life while at present my two small brothers are going.  The thugs now keep on waiting for me at two points and have started my small brothers about me.

N:  As you have stopped going to school, what do you plan to do in future?
TMK:  I want to resume my studies.  My final exam is in December this year.  But I donít think Iíll ever be able to sit for in it.  I have no intention to quit school, but well I donít know what to do.  I wish I could just continue my studies for a future when Iíll be able to speak out for the people of Burma.  The life of a Burmese refugee is miserable, anywhere in the world.  Mine has been full of wretchedness.  I want now to fight the thugs, for all the evil motives they nurture.

N:  Who is taking the responsibility of your education in the school?
TMK:  UNHCR.  Iím so grateful to them.  Without their assistance I donít know where I would have been by now.

N:  Can you please tell your fatherís name?
TMK:  Sure.  Mratt Tun is my father and his Burmese refugee ID card number is 01034.

In further talks with TMKís mother Narinjara came to know that, in the area where they live they have off and on been harassed by provocative comments while on way to school.  Though they have tried to remain as peaceful as possible there has been a number of confrontations with the teenage thugs.  Couldnít there be an end to this kind of harassment, she asked.  #

N.B.
  For further information in this regard please write to Narinjara, narinjar@aitlbd.net, or call:  0880-18-255018