A female student tries desperately to fend off a bus conductor and manages to jump off the moving vehicle right in front of a traffic police constable. The law enforcer responds to her pleas for assistance with a question, “Why are you out at 7:00 in the morning?”
This is not a movie scene. Neither did this happen in Delhi, where in 2012 a medical student was gang raped and brutally assaulted before being thrown off, shocking the world’s conscience. The events played out right in Dhaka at Azampur, Uttara a couple of months back.
The victim, Khadija Jahan Ridu, says a knife she was carrying that day helped her escape from that empty bus. It was something she carried as a precautionary measure on finding sprays ineffective during a similar incident on a human hauler earlier.
A frustrated Ridu resorted to social media for justice and suggests other victims to speak up. “I have no power because I am the power,” she said.
Ridu, a student of a private university, was invited to come and narrate the incident at BRAC University’s (BRACU) Mohakhali campus auditorium during an ongoing “Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign Week” themed “Respecting Each Other for Who We Are”.
Organised by the BRAC Institute of Languages (BIL), Office of Co-curricular Activities (OCA) and Counseling Unit, the campaign aims on having interactive sessions with students to create awareness and develop strategies to effectively prevent bullying.
The campaign’s third day on 15 May 2018 focused on “Physical and Sexual Bullying”.
People who bully others are insecure and attention seekers, said Professor Malabika Sarker, director (research) at the James P Grant School of Public Health of BRACU.
She pointed out that women should stop bullying each other on their differences and provide support towards stopping sexual bullying.
Lecturer Anne Anthonia Baroi, a psychosocial counselor, informed that an in-house survey revealed that 131 out of 137 students of BRACU experienced bullying at least once.
Lecturer Anusheh Shiham Ali of the School of Law informed of a “BRAC University Anti-Bullying Policy”, which defined the terms, informed of ways to report such incidents and spelled out the penalties.
Afsana Mimi, actor and director, as a celebrity guest speaker shared her life experiences of being physically and verbally bullied.
Mime artists of the Drama and Theatre Forum performed a play with the message “No Bullying and be Friends”.
A video was screened at the start of the program providing messages of renowned academics and personalities.
They include Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman, a BRACU Board of Trustees member; Sheepa Hafiza, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, and Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, PhD, vice chancellor of BRACU.
Lady Syeda Sarwat Abed, founder and director of the BIL, shared her inspiration and the background story behind initiating this campaign. She assured of ensuring that the anti-bullying policy reached every student of BRACU.
As in other days, students shared their opinion regarding bullying on a message board and ended the program with an oath to join hands to stop bullying.
OCA Director Dilara Afroz Khan and lecturer Shami Suhrid, a psychosocial counselor and coordinator of the Counseling Unit, moderated the program.