Source: Hindu American Foundation
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) and other prominent NGO's in addressing a panel discussion on violence against minority women and girls in Bangladesh at the United Nations on March 6. The meeting brought together NGO's in consultative relationships with the United Nations and was arranged as a part of the parallel sessions of the 53rd conference of the Commission on the Status of Women. HAF's Director of Public Policy, Ishani Chowdhury represented the Foundation at the conference that inlcuded North American leaders of HRCBM, several academic experts on Bangladesh and the Venerable Bimal Bhikku, a Buddhist monk from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
Often harrowing in their depictions, the panelists detailed abuses of Hindu and Buddhist women and girls in today's Bangladesh solely on account of their religions. Pressure to convert to Islam, the use of rape as a tool for humilation and the Vested Property Act that dispossesses Hindus of their properties were among many issues discussed.
"Bangladesh is a land where the Buddha himself visited and stupas were built heralding the peaceful coexistence of a new faith alongside the ancient Hindu tradition," said Ishani Chowdhury during her address. "Sadly, today it is also a land spiraling to a path of intolerance for non-Islamic faiths, lack of respect and justice towards its female population and the inability to coexist in an ever shrinking global village."