Breaking Silence

Thank you, Nova Ahmed, for your story!

Apu (sister), will you write my story on your computer?

It was the girl who works at my mother’s house. She was harassed in her village, left school and got married, which did not work out and finally, started to work in the city. She was eager to share her stories, she believed that the story would somehow help another girl who may not have to leave her school. She actually broke her silence.

We have been working on harassment in Dhaka, Bangladesh- we worked with urban girls where harassment – especially street harassment, cyber harassment, and harassment in many other forms are present. The major problem we faced was silence – it was so profound that at one point we thought that the problem is not so severe in the city. But once the silence was broken through intimate communication sessions, there was a flood of stories. Many of them did not fall into the target group – many of them did not listen to the rules of the interview methods – many of them asked for suggestions – and it was evident that everyone tried to help, support each other directly or indirectly.

We have a long way to go in terms of dealing with a social problem. Our initial effort has been greatly appreciated and we look forward to open the doors so that the silence is broken, awareness is generated. The girl who shared her story voluntarily at the beginning often sits down by me and asks what we are doing, when we will go to her village, and I know – we will do it. If not today, tomorrow.

Nova is currently an Assistant Professor at North South University in Bangladesh, where she returned after completing her doctorate at Georgia Tech, in order to serve her country.

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