November 16, 2003

Taslima Nasrin Banned again

Taslima Nasrin just cannot be ignored by the media. Her recently published book "Ka" (the first consonant of the Bengali alphabet) has created a huge degree of controversy. The exiled Bangladeshi writer has, to use the clich�d phrase poked the hornet�s nest, and the reactions have been extreme. The general readers have also taken to the book in great numbers. Ever since Taslima Nasrin secretly escaped from Bangladesh to seek refuge in Sweden she has been in the news at regular intervals. No writer in contemporary Bengali literature has provoked such extreme reactions. Already three of her books �Lajja�, �Amar Meyebela� & �Utal Hawa� have been banned by the authorities. The first one banned before she was forced to leave Europe and the other two were banned in 2000. Now �Ka� has been banned by the court after an eminent writer, Syed Shamsul Haque sued her BD Taka 100 Million (Appx 1.7 million USD) for libel and tarnishing his reputation.

What has earned the rage of the most in the current book is Taslima�s frank discussion of her sex life. This is something very unusual among Bangladeshi writers. In most autobiographies, and even biographies, there is little mention about sex. In the west most writers do not hesitate to discuss their sex lives but here in Bangladesh it is still considered as taboo. But there is a catch here. In their novels and other literary works they do not hesitate to describe sexual act in good details. However about their personal lives some writers appear almost asexual beings. So Taslima being a woman and talking openly about her, significant number of, asexual is something very difficult to swallow for most people. In a hypocritical society like Bangladesh women are expected to never give a vent to sexual passions.

Taslima clearly considers sex as an ennobling and pleasurable act and this is something the intellects of the country are not ready to accept. She always picks such controversial topics as oppression against minority by the Islamic fundamentalists and sometimes exaggerates. This has infuriated some of the fundamentalists and they have threatened her by putting a price on her head before her exile. The govt. has eased the tension by banning the books. But she had to leave the country in fear.

Taslima in the book �Ka� is not content with talking about her sexuality, she goes on to divulge the name of some quite eminent personalities of Bangladesh she has slept with. Apparently a large number of writers in Bangladesh wanted to have physical relations with her because she had an uncontrolled life in the past. Some of them succeeded with Taslima�s consent, some of them failed. Taslima exposes all. She even rationalizes their behavior. She says that as she is a single woman and writes freely about sex, many of these men felt she would be easy to seduce. In fact more often than not Taslima tries to portray herself a victim of sort.

However she was hardly a naive character falling for the guile of worldly men.

The writers who have been portrayed in the book have denied the allegations. That�s also hypocritical, because they want to be a person without controversies in this conservative society. However I feel that they should have confessed boldly that they have slept with her. If that is wrong they should not have done it in the first place. Like the Monica-Bill Clinton controversy, people have understood when Clinton confessed.

But there is another thing, the breach of trust. Taslima had sex with the writers in her consent and there might be honest relationships. She should have not broken the trust by divulging them. That strips her of any dignity and honor. She is acting very cheap. Just like those in the West who wants to expose dignitaries whose life can be unsettled with the claim and thus she can earn some money from the media.

She is always picking up controversial subjects to be in the limelight. Instead of being a feminist, her view is extreme sadist who wants men to be under control of women. These will never be welcomed by the society. She has talent and even though some says that she does not write well, I think she is a free flowing writer and can write something remarkable like one of her earlier books �Nirbachito Kolam�. But if her target is the press and strengthening the cause of the refuge then she will always remain controversial and avoided by the common reader.

Her next project is to expose the writers of West Bengal, India with whom she slept with. Watch out for more controversies and banning.

(Based on an article in the Daily Independent by Syed Mehdi Momin)

Update: Here are a few excerpts from Taslima Nasrin's book "Ka" hosted on

Page 65| pg66-67 | pg68-69 | pg70-71 | pg72-73 | pg74-75 |


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