Waiting for Justice

May 25, 2007

by Hana Shams Ahmed
[Daily Star, May 25, 2007]

No one knows how Shaptorshi is spending her days without her mother’s care.

It was the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr in 2005. Nine-year-old Shaptorshi had just come back from Dhaka to celebrate the big festival at her dadi’s house in Barisal. After playing with her friends, Shaptorshi came home to eat iftari and was told that her mother Papia was not feeling well and was resting in a room upstairs. She decided to go to her uncle’s house next door to have iftari and then rushed to the rooftop with her friends. After catching a glimpse of the new moon she rushed home to share the excitement with her family. She never got to hug her mother though. Right after sighting the new moon Shaptorshi’s little world fell apart when she was told that her mother was no longer in this world. Read the rest of this entry »



May 11, 2007

by Hana Shams Ahmed
[Daily Star, May 11, 2007]

Shumi woke up one day to find herself in a train with another man.

Seven-year-old Shumon can’t stop grinning and his eyes sparkle with curiosity as he greets us at his adopted home in BNWLA’s (Bangladesh National Women Lawyer’s Association) hostel in Agargaon. He’s one of the many children who has had to face the cruel reality, a child’s worst nightmare, of losing his parents and home and enter an unknown and unfamiliar world. According to BNWLA, in 2006 a total of 367 children went missing from their homes.

Whatever horror Shumon has had to go through in the past few years does not reflect on his face though. He looks genuinely excited about the arrival of people from outside the hostel. He enthusiastically shows us his jigsaw puzzle of the Bangladeshi flag. When I ask him if he has solved it all by himself, he takes apart the whole thing and redoes it to prove that he did indeed solve the puzzle himself. Shumon doesn’t know his last name or the name of his village home; he only knows that somewhere in Netrokona a mother who goes by the name of Saleha is crying out for her lost son. Read the rest of this entry »

The Invisible Millions

May 4, 2007

by Hana Shams Ahmed
[Daily Star Cover Story, May 4, 2007]

A typical middle-class family employs a single homeworker (varying from age anywhere from 10 to 40, mostly women and girls) who is responsible for all the work in the house. She has to wake up earliest in the morning and prepare breakfast for everyone in the house and also the Tiffin for the school-going children of the house. She has to get the children ready for school. Then she has to clean the furnsiture and sweep the whole house and wash the clothes. After which she has to cut and clean the raw food for preparing lunch. Sometimes she has to clean the toilets. After everyone in the house has had lunch and she has completed eating whatever leftover that has been handed down to her she has to clean the dishes. Read the rest of this entry »