Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Atheism + Women's Rights in Bangladesh

Wednesday's SV Atheists meeting featured another interesting talk, this time a woman from Bangladesh who has lived in the US for 25 years was talking about Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi woman physician/writer whose strong and public women's rights campaigning and writing caused such an uproar she was forced to flee the country. The speaker, Masuma Ahmed, was raised as an atheist and women's rights advocate.

One interesting point she made is she doesn't believe it's religion which determines the level of women's rights, it's the culture. Bangladesh does not have a state religion, but the culture enforces the rules which keep women down. That those rules are based on what we see in Islamic fundamentalist countries, she said, is not because of Islam but because that's what the men in power propagate.

As a member of a wealthy, educated, non-Islamic family, Masuma said Taslima's writings don't really impact her very much. Taslima is writing from having been in a more middle-class, observant Islamic family. Masuma seems very comfortable in the US, while Taslima, who lives in Sweden, makes frequent trips to Calcutta, and has tried to get India to allow her to move to a part of India near Bangladesh.

When asked how come women's rights don't get more mileage in Bangladesh, considering their current PM is a woman, and the PM though the late 80's and early 90's was also a woman, Masuma said the government is a puppet, its funding comes from fundamentalist Islamic countries.

Yes, I'm an atheist, but no, I'm not a member of any group. I'll attend any talk which looks interesting, is at a convenient time and place, and free.

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