Sayedur Rahman

THE VOW OF SAYEDUR RAHMAN AND HIS COMPANIONS TO CHANGE BISWANATH

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Located close to the Sylhet city, Biswanath Upazila shares its border with the Sadar Upazila in West and South. Sayedur Rahman Sayed, a journalist, cultural activist and organiser living at Biswanath, has been working for the daily 'Sangbad' for 13 years. Over his long career as a journalist which started in 1977, he has been known for his protective nature and leadership as an active initiator. He has been actively involved with a number of cultural bodies including the Udichi. His work as a journalist got him acquainted with Sylhet Juba Academi, a Sylhet based NGO that started implementing the WE CAN campaign since 2006 and Syed has been a part of it since then. Currently he is the president of the Change Makers of Biswanath Upazila Committee, and a member of the Sylhet District Committee. A cognisant citizen like Sayedur Rahman thinks that Biswanath is still much held back in terms of gender equity and cultural richness. In view of this, a 30 member Biswanath Change Maker Committee has been formed involving President of the Business cooperative, journalists, cultural activists, Chairman of the Biswanath Sadar Union and students. From 2006, they are with the WE CAN campaign for doing something good - something different for the society. Most of the members of the Change Maker Upazila committee perceive that though they know about the issues of domestic violence, still they were not fully aware of the behavioural change that was needed at individual level. As this fact is clear to them now, Sayedur Rahman thinks, ''we would not need all these efforts if our education system could build the social consciousness that all men and women are equal. Sadly our education system failed in doing so. As a result there remained no alternative to these kinds of social campaign”. For this, reason, they have tried the most to involve the young generation. The committee has already activated 107 Connector Change Makers at Biswanath who are working in Ward-wise groups to organise thousands of Change Makers. Union and Ward committees are also formed. The Connector Change Makers sit meet twice every month. Sayed said, “…in whichever ceremony, programme or gatherings we go, we try to talk at least for 5 minutes against domestic violence”. Besides organising such activities, a local business leader and member of the Upazila Committee, Madhu Miah has been trying to aware the business community about domestic violence. Comparatively young Change Makers like Kamal Munna and Nabin Sohel informed that they even convey messages against domestic violence even when they gossip at tea stalls. They explained these chats over tea not only aware the young generation but also feed them with information about incidents of violence which they try to sort out with the help of the committee. Stage drama is a regular weapon in their arsenal, used against domestic violence. They have staged about 40 dramas about half of which showcased messages against domestic violence. They said before they joined the WE CAN campaign, they were concerned about bigger social problems. Problems like domestic violence did not seem signi_cant enough to them. But now they have realized the importance of such issues. Every day, Mr Saiful Haq, Chairman of Biswanath Union has to solve 2/3 cases of domestic violence. Being involved in the local politics as a public representative for 15 years or so, he realized that both the law enforcement forces and the local public administration is now more concerned than ever regarding domestic violence. Campaigns like WE CAN are also playing vital role in raising social awareness on domestic violence. Biswanath has changed a lot; nevertheless, still a lot of things need to be changed. Members of the Biswanath Upazila Committee shared their collective opinion, where the male-dominance has become the tradition, participation of two, _ve or ten men are not enough. A larger social change is needed. Towards this, under the leadership of Syedur Rahman, the male community have vowed to change Biswanath.