Hay Festival Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2013.
“We talk about sex but this is a far cry from discussing sexuality … which includes sex but so much more.” – Faustina Pereira
Writer Munize Manzur, feminist activist Professor Firdous Azim, academic Shuchi Karim and human rights lawyer Faustina Pereira explore women’s sexuality in Bangladesh with BBC journalist Razia Iqbal. To what extent can creative expression be a space where women in particular can talk about different issues and try to change society’s perceptions? From women’s bodies to how Bangla as a language helps enshrine heterosexual norms, the conversation puts topics which are rarely given a public forum into the spotlight.
Munize Manzur is a Dhaka-based teacher and writer whose stories have been published widely in national newspapers, international literary journals and anthologies. She wrote the dialogue for Further Soil, a performance piece which performed internationally. She has also written columns for several Bangladeshi publications, including the Daily Star and ICE Today Magazine.
Professor Firdous Azim is chair of the Department of English and Humanities at BRAC University, and a contributing editor for Feminist Review. She has published work on post-colonialist literature and feminist issues, and her books include The Colonial Rise of the Novel and Infinite Variety: Women in Society and Literature. She is a member of Naripokkho, a woman’s activist group in Bangladesh.
Dr Shuchi Karim is a feminist and academic from Bangladesh, and has been published in national and international books and journals. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, development studies, education and disability issues. After starting her career with the BRAC Education Program, she gradually moved towards academia and research. Shuchi is the Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Educational Development at BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Dr Faustina Pereira is a lawyer, human rights activist and author. She is the director of the Human Rights and Legal Aid Services at BRAC Bangladesh, and has a doctorate in International Human Rights Law from the University of Notre Dame, USA. Before joining BRAC, Faustina was the director of Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK). In 2006 she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Razia Iqbal works as a special correspondent and presenter for BBC news; she is one of the main presenters of BBC World Service’s flagship current affairs programme, Newshour. She presents Talking Books for BBC World TV and the BBC News channel, a half hour interview programme with leading writers. She also presents documentaries on Radio 4 and World Service. Previously, she was the BBC Arts correspondent for seven years.