When I was a little girl, I always wanted Bangladesh to be famous. I did not like that whenever people asked me where I was from I would have to explain, “Bangladesh, this tiny country on the East of India.” Why could people not just know where my Motherland was?
At the age of 18 years when I went abroad for college, I discovered that Bangladesh was famous, at least in Charlottesville, Virginia: Famous for floods, cyclones, crippling poverty and dying children.
Now as a long-time resident of the States, I have found that Bangladesh is upheld as an ideal when it comes to development indicators such as reducing maternal mortality ratios, and allowing women to enter the workforce en masse, particularly in our garment sector.
Rising Up: Why Has the International Media Been Largely Silent on Shahbagh? Image Credit: Flickr
Speaking of the garments sector, there is apparently nothing the international media loves more, when it comes to Bangladesh, than factory fires that unfortunately almost regularly sweep through the country. Just look at the example of Tazreen Garments. Late last year when the story broke that major US chains, such as Walmart, manufacture their clothes in cheap labor factories tucked away in the outskirts of Dhaka, the Western press could not get enough.
This story about lack, or absolute absence, of fire safety measures in Bangladeshi garment factories, killing thousands of poor Bangladeshi workers almost annually, was gobbled up by the media. Not a day could go by when the Tazreen garment factory story was not mentioned in the news, and even major American outlets such as ABC and NBC were providing wall to wall coverage on the incident.
Is the West then only interested in press that perpetuates stereotypes of the ‘poor, brown, exploited worker’? Do they not want to hear when we rise up against religious extremism? Why then when the Shahbagh story is unfolding before the world’s eyes, the international media is looking away? Writer, Kachin Gupta ponders in, The Pioneer:
Shahbagh Protesters Hold Up Images of Bangladeshi Political Activist & Writer, Jahanara Imam, Who First Demanded to Try War Criminals.Image Credit: The Daily Star
Something remarkable is happening in Bangladesh which has gone under-reported, if not unnoticed, by newspapers and news television channels. What is a pity and a shame is that the international media, which goes into overdrive if 10 people gather at Tahrir Square or a bunch of lazy layabouts decide to ‘occupy’ Wall Street, has missed a story that tells more than one unfolding tale in a country with a bitter past and an uncertain future, a nation whose blood-soaked birth is unparalleled in recent history.