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'For me sex is not obscene'
 

Taslima NasreenKOLKATA: Exiled from her native Bangladesh for over a decade, Taslima Nasreen has now attracted the wrath of the ‘progressive’ West Bengal government across the border. The third volume of her autobiography, Dwikhandito , was recently banned by the Buddhadeb government for its alleged anti-Islamic bias. Taslima, who is currently a research fellow at the Harvard University, talks about her latest novel.

What is your reaction to the ban on Dwikhandito ?  

I am greatly surprised by what has happened in West Bengal. Religious fundamentalists in Bangladesh have always argued for a ban on my books. But when some of the progressive, free-thinking writers of West Bengal appealed to the government to proscribe the book, I was taken aback. The first two parts of my autobiography did not face any trouble in the state.  

However, this controversy is not of my own making. Many have accused me of having deliberately chosen a subject that is provocative. But this, remember, was an autobiography. I have merely narrated my vision and my blindness, my despairs and hopes, my anger and my tears. In short, all the beautiful and ugly events and experiences which have helped me grow and evolve into the person that I am.  

There has been controversy from the very beginning of my writing career in Bangladesh and this is because my views are not acceptable to the religious conservatives there. But it seems to me that even the West Bengal government is now falling into the same trap... When I write I don’t allow the fear of consequences to interfere with the writing process. I have in the past paid for my commitment to the truth and the way I live my life. I am prepared to pay more if I have to.  

What explains the hostility in traditional societies to women’s writing on sexuality?  

Taslima NasreenIn traditional societies, we have a long legacy of men controlling the body and mind of women. Such societies have valorised motherhood and fabricated concepts like chastity. Women have been the victims of these notions for thousands of years. A man can have multiple relationships and affairs and talk about them. But if a woman ever writes about her love and sexuality, she is immediately described as defiled, treacherous, and abominable.  

In human history, whenever a woman has stood up against patriarchy and spoken of her own liberty, she has been condemned and abused as a fallen woman. Quite some time back, in my introduction to another book of mine, I wrote that I love to call myself ‘fallen’ in the eyes of society. To me, the primary condition for a woman to be pure is to be a so-called fallen angel. Among all the ‘awards’ that I have hitherto collected, I consider the title of ‘patita’ or fallen woman to be the highest. This is an achievement of my long-struggling life as a writer and as a woman.

(Times Of India)
 

 

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