NSU still silent after barring transgender activist Hochemin Islam from speaking at uni event
Why was Hochemin Islam, a name synonymous with transgender empowerment in Bangladesh, refused entry to North South University – the largest private university in the country?
On Friday (24 November), Hochemin – who was given the name by her father and friend to encapsulate their own rebellious spirit stemming from Ho Chi Minh city – was all set to attend an event at the university titled Women’s Career Carnival, organised by NSU and the non-profit Heroes.
But the day before the event, Hochemin was informed that her talk would not be held at all.
“On 23 November, I was told that I won’t be giving my talk at NSU as students were protesting,” Hochemin said during a talk show last night.
Explaining the matter in a Facebook post, Hochemin wrote, “The organisers were fighting for me, but the authorities did not want me there. They [factions of protesting students] said I was coming to promote LGBT communities.”
She said a particular faction of students were protesting her presence and had also sent a letter to the vice-chancellor, a copy of which was posted in the closed Facebook group “Islamic Practitioner NSU”, along with Hochemin’s photo.
The letter was also circulated by some professors and students of the university.
According to the letter, protestors claimed that Hochemin’s promotion of her gender identity went against the law, citing the controversial and colonial section 377 of the Bangladesh penal code.
The section says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In 2013, hijras were recognised as a separate gender by the Bangladeshi Government.
As the protests in NSU gained traction, Hochemin was told that she would be provided security for the event.
A few hours later, however, she was told that providing such security would not be possible.
Eventually, her talk was cancelled.
The decision was slammed by netizens and media alike, who decried giving in to the demands of protesting students.
Hochemin maintains that her panel was to discuss making the workplace inclusive for the people on the margins of society.
“I’m feeling disgusted. This is my country. I was born and raised in this soil. Why do I have to endure these just because of a different gender identity?” Hochemin wrote.
Speaking at a talk show, Hochemin said, “I don’t know why they targeted me. There were other speakers whose content could fall foul of section 377. They singled me out. Others had more to say, but I was the only one [barred].”
The NSU has not yet issued any statement regarding the issue.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Dr Rezwanul Alam, director of public relations of the university, said they would issue a statement over the matter at 4pm.
The organisers, Heroes for all, could also not be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, the Chhatra Union – the leading student association in Bangladesh – has expressed grievance against the NSU for its gender discrimination, which violated the university’s charter of creating an inclusive education system.
In a statement signed by its office secretary, it said “The university has turned into a factory of producing militants instead of promoting scientific thought.”
Courtesy : Tbs news
Note: This news piece was originally published in tbsnews.net and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Right