The parliamentary standing committee on liberation war affairs ministry on Sunday recommended the ministry for taking initiatives so that female upazila nirbahi officers and deputy commissioners do not lead the state-level programmes to honour freedom fighters after their demise.
The recommendation was made after the committee member retired Major Rafiqul Islam Bir Uttam raised the issue and several other members supported it, the standing committee chairman Shajahan Khan told New Age.
‘Rafiqul Islam Bir Uttam said that he heard that people criticised when a female UNO was leading the state-level programme to honour freedom fighters, claiming that Islam does not allow a woman to lead such programmes,’ Shajahan added.
‘We recommended a designated male to lead such events,’ he further said.
Women leaders expressed their concern over the recommendation of the JS body.
Talking to New Age they said that the recommendation is also in conflict with the government’s policy on women empowerment.
He also said that the committee recommended that there should be no presence of children of anyone who was part of the anti-liberation forces at the state-level programme marking the liberation war.
‘In Vietnam, there is a bar against three generations of war criminals or anti-liberation forces to occupy any government job. But there is no such rule in Bangladesh, as a result, children of people who were part of the anti-liberation forces are assuming important positions in government jobs. We want to discourage their presence in the state programmes marking the liberation war,’ Shajahan said.
He said that both the recommendations could be executed only after the approval of the cabinet and so the committee recommended the liberation war affairs ministry to place them in a cabinet meeting.
The 19th meeting of the committee also discussed the progress of different programmes taken by the liberation war affairs ministry and its subordinating agencies.
It further recommended an increase of money for purchasing medicines up to Tk 75,000 from Tk 50,000 for all freedom fighters while receiving treatment free of cost at the government-designated hospitals.
The committee recommended that the ministry should determine the definition of freedom fighters based on their learnings from other countries.
About the recommendations of the JS body, Nari Grantha Prabartana executive director Farida Akter told New Age that the recommendation of skipping female officials from the guard of honour was an outcome of the patriarchal mindset.
‘A guard of honour is not a religious ritual. I wonder why they [JS body] found a problem with it,’ she said, adding that the recommendation is seriously objectionable.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Fauzia Moslem said that the move is in conflict with the government’s policy of appointing public servants because the officers are getting jobs on the basis of their merits, not because they are women.
‘The recommendation is also a violation of the constitution,’ she said, adding that the Mahila Parishad strongly opposed the move of the JS body.
According to the ministry of public affairs, about 100 female officers are serving the upazila administrations as upazila nirbahi officers across the country while the total number of UNO is 439.
According to JS secretariat press release, the committee members AKM Mozammel Huq, also the liberation war affairs minister, Rajiuddin Ahmed, Kazi Firoz Rashid, Wares Hossain Belal and Moslem Uddin Ahmed were present at the meeting.
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