In the morning 19th March, I saw in the news that Taslima Nasrin is in Kathmandu for the South Asian Women's Meet. Instantaneously I wrote an email her asking to meet being gloomy due to her busy schedule for the event. I was not so optimist about meeting her this time. After two days, my mobile rang with landline number. As soon as I heard Bangoli tone I was so happy. She said 'Is this Uttam?' I replied 'finally welcome to Nepal'. She was planned to come to Nepal in 2011. We left Oslo (Norway) the same day after planning to meet in Kathmandu in two days. But she could not make Kathmandu at that time even though big mass was expecting her. That is why I used the term 'finally' to welcome her in Nepal this time.
Taslima was main news in Nepal within the two days of her arrival. That shows how much Nepali society gives value to someone who speaks the truth and promotes equality and dignity. This respect is hard in other South Asian countries as per my experience.
World consider Taslima Nasrin a freedom fighter. She had to give up the ordinary living to establish the idea that women are equal to man in society. Not only that, she also openly spoke on the prejudice of religion to people in general. She was forced to leave her motherland by Muslim extremists due to her respect to Human Rights (especially equality of women). Only exceptional people can speak the truth with the sword on the throat. But she had the courage. She has been living out of her motherland for decades being bold and being the voice of voiceless.
Taslima has a long relationship with International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). As central board members of IHEU, I wanted to welcome her in my homeland as well. I went to hotel Annapurna with SOCH Nepal team. SOCH advisor Mr. Damodar Pudasaini, President Mrs. Shanti Gurung and staffs Mr. Bipin Thapa and Mr. Kiran Khatry after the festival of International Social Work Day. Taslima called me again to reconfirm that I am heading to meet her. Interestingly, she gave special priority for the meeting. She was waiting on her door to say hi to us. There were 4-5 journalists waiting for her but she requested them to wait till our meeting is over.
The meeting was focused on challenges of improper cultural practices (Kurities) in Nepal. Nasrin was curious to know about various kurities enforced by religion and superstitions in Nepal. She also questioned about the biggest animal sacrificing cult 'Gadimai' festival. She enquired about the Human Rights situation of general women in Nepal. Particularly, we exchanged ideas on the cult of Chaupadi, Witch-hunting, Dowry, Deuki and untouchability among other Kurities. Nasrin became very happy to see our publications; Kuriti, Dharmako Hangover, Humanism,and Secularism. We requested her to make another visit to Nepal to push the movement of Kuriti. She humbly accepted the idea saying 'this is the issue of my core interest''. We found her very much motivated to collaborate in Nepal to campaign against Kurities.
Board Member: IHEU
Member: SOCH Nepal
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