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Dhaka Tribune

Graphic novel ‘Birangona’ launched

The graphic novel provides guidelines on treatment of ethical testimonies of sexual violence during times of conflict

Update : 10 Apr 2019, 06:34 PM

A graphic novel titled “Birangona,” which provides guidelines on collection and treatment of ethical testimonies of sexual violence during conflicts, was launched on Wednesday. 

The launching program was organized by Research Initiatives Bangladesh and Durham University, UK, at Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka.

The graphic novel is based on the research findings in Nayanika Mookherjee's book,  “The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971”, published in 2015.

The guidelines and the graphic novel were adopted through five workshops – two in LSE’s Women, Peace and Security in October 2016, December 2018, and three with Research Initiative Bangladesh in November 2016, August 2017, and August 2018, in collaboration with various stakeholders. 

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque unveiled the book cover as chief guest along with right activists, researchers and participants. 

The Ministry of Liberation War also launched its guidelines in August 2018. 

The launching program and discussion were jointly organized by Research Initiative Bangladesh and Durhum University.

Illustrations for the graphic novel, published by Noktarrts, in Dhaka, was done by Najmun Nahar Keya. 

Prof Nayanika Mookherjee will announce the second launching of the graphic novel on May 20 in London. 

The ethical guidelines and the graphic novel should both be ideally read with the Spectral Wound, stated Nayanika Mookherjee in the newly launched graphic novel, wherein, she also mentioned that this can be used by school children from 12 years of age as well as professionals working among survivors. 

“These guidelines are thereby essential for the state to record testimonies and include survivors on the government’s pension register. These guidelines would also enable war babies to seek recognition and could be used in other contemporary instances of sexual violence in conflicts, like that of the Rohingyas. Further, these guidelines might also be relevant for those attempting to collect testimonies of sexual violence in an everyday context,” said Prof Nayanika Mookherjee. 

The guideline also expands on ethical presentation of Birangonas, on how to photograph, interview, and represent them in media and films.  

Sundori, daughter of a Birangona (brave women), later recognized as woman freedom fighters, shared her sufferings. She broke into tears, while sharing how her family and herself were socially excluded, and were subjected to mental and physical torture,  because she is a daughter of a Birongona.  

At launching ceremony, focusing on the necessity to include this graphic novel on the ethical guideline, speakers and Sundori, urged the Liberation War Affairs Minister, to emphasize and forward it so as to include the graphic novel publication in the textbook. 

The guideline and graphic novel will be available for download in Bangla and English on www.ethical-testimonies-svc.org.uk. 

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Account, and Durhum University’s Research Impact Fund. 

Synopsis of the graphic novel

School girl Labonno, gets a school project on family memories of 1971. Alongside her grandmother’s narration of the history of “Birangona,” her mother, Hena tells her of the Oral History Project through which they tried to collect testimonies. She talks about the ethical dilemmas, which they underwent and the mistakes they made while trying to collect testimonies of Birangonas when leading them on to talk about the various points that needed to be covered, as per ethical guidance for recording testimonies of sexual violence during conflicts. Labonno discovers an intricate secret of the family history, hidden in these discussions of the guidelines.

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