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Ethnic communities of Sirajganj undermined in society

  • Published at 12:36 am August 11th, 2019
Ethnic communities of Sirajganj undermined in society-Dhaka Tribune
A group of tribal workers plant paddy sapling in a village at Raiganj upazila, Sirajganj on Wednesday Dhaka Tribune

On the day of August 9, many organizations take tribal people to major cities to participate in programs for the day of the world’s indigenous people. However, very few of these organizations actually come to do any good for these issues of oppression

The International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was observed across the globe on Friday. In Bangladesh there is a population of around 3 million indegineous people, with over 46 different ethnic communities enriched with fascinating cultures, and heritages. However, being part of a minority community, most of them sadly face different kinds of social barriers.   

On the day of August 9, many organizations take tribal people to major cities to participate in programs for the day of the world’s indigenous people. However, very few of these organizations actually come to do any good for these issues of oppression.

Among these communities, people of Santal, Sing, Orao, Mundari, Mahato, and Rajoar populate the northern part of Sirajganj. Leaders of these communities highlighted their endangered mother tongues, higher rate of child marriages, burden of family debts, pay discrimination for female workers, and hassle in availing the quota opportunities by ethnic groups of the plains as compared to the groups of the high grounds, as key problems that their people still face to this day.

On the plains of Raiganj and Sirajganj upazilas there are around 40,000-45,000 people in 102 villages. Apart from a few thousands, most of them are from remote areas in the upazila.

In both upazilas there are about 10 government primary schools, where many ethnic children attend. Although there are textbooks available in Sadri language of the Orao community, there are no teachers trained in the languages to teach, said Tarash upazila Primary Education Officer Md Akhteruzzaman. 

This correspondent, during his visit to Sirajganj found that women in these communities work harder than their male counterparts. Majority of the family income is earned by the women. But female day labourers earn only Tk200 per day, whereas males earn Tk350.

A local college teacher said, when someone is employed by an organization in the big cities, there are rules for equal pay, but the same cannot be said for the remote areas, where people take advantage of the minority communities.

Two of the main reasons why women of ethnic groups lag behind in education, is the high rate of child marriage, and the burden of poverty, and debt put on their shoulders, forcing them to seek work from an early age, said teachers of Nimgachi Khoichala High School, and Adibashi Balika High School.

To secure the communities from frauds in land transfer related issues, several departments are engaged. But there are a group of people with money, and power who exploit these people as they lack political affiliations to fight back. In this regard, the people responsible should look into the matter of providing better solutions to the people in need, said Chief Executive Officer Ifhtekhar Uddin Shamim of Sirajganj Zila Parishad.