Enrica Garzilli garzilli at shore.net
Wed Aug 27 14:05:08 UTC 1997

Dear Colleagues,

I am glad to announce that the 

*Journal of South Asia Women Studies* Vol. 3, No. 1 (Aug. 25) 
has just been issued by email.

In a few weeks you will find the abstracts of the papers on our web
page: http://www.shore.net/~india/jsaws/

The hard-copy book *The Journal of South Asia Women Studies: Collected
Issues -- 1995-97* is in print, and will be available by September.


- PAPER: *The Perils of Free Speech* by Taslima Nasrin
- REPORT: *An Unconventional Woman: Two Evenings with Taslima Nasrin* by
  Enrica Garzilli
  *Review* of Eva Kipp, with contributions from Kim Hudson, Lucia de  
Vries,   Marieke van Vliet and Alieke Barmentloo, *Bending Bamboo  
Changing Winds:   Nepali Women Tell Their Life Stories* (Damber K.  
Gurung and Ambika Gurung)
                               * * * * *

                    *THE PERILS OF FREE SPEECH* 
                        by Taslima Nasrin
Taslima Nasrin gave this lecture in April 26, 1996 in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts (U.S.A.). Never previouly published, it is about women who 
want to be writers and poets. It is about herself and her problems as a 
writer in Bangladesh nowadays. These difficulties are both due to 
Islamic fundamentalism, and to the general idea that the education of 
women would ruin the family. Educated girls would forget their rituals, 
neglect their husbands and their families. In a reaction to the initial 
attempts to educate girls, the idea was spread that women, if educated, 
would become widows, which means their husbands would die. Another 
common idea is that the educated women would lose their virtue. There is 
a saying in Bengali to the effect that if women put on shoes the lunch 
is spoiled. Working women are still very rare in Muslim middle-class 
families; some of them work for wages but mostly in the informal sector 
like private tutoring, or they are teachers at schools, colleges, 
hospitals and a few other types of institutions.

In this situation one can hardly expect hundreds of women to take up the 
pen. There are women among the authors and journalists in Bangladesh, 
but there are few in number.
The problem grows up when a Bangladeshi woman wants to do some really 
creative writing. As long as a woman writes about males, stories or 
poems, as long she imitates the style and subject matter of male 
writers, as long she follows the beaten track, and as long as she 
remains conformist, she will be all right. But if someone starts saying 
what she really means, editors and publishers are bound to raise their 
eyebrows. Indeed, the moment a girl in Bangladeshi society starts 
writing, the first reaction of men is that there must be something wrong 
with her. Why should a happy housewife want to write? Men think girls 
with problems usually end up in a mental asylum, become prostitutes, or 
commit suicide. And those who cannot do any of these things, pick up the 
pen and shamelessly intrude into the men's world. 

The paper continues with questions, comments, and speculation regarding 
herself. Nasrin describes her career and problems she has being a free, 
atheist woman  writer in a Muslim patriarchal country. The talk is
followed by her reading of poems, and by more than an hour answering the 
audience's questions.
                             * * * * * 

                          by Enrica Garzilli

What is published after Nasrin's lecture, is a report of two evenings
Garzilli spent with Taslima Nasrin in April 1996 in Cambridge (Mass.,
U.S.A.). Especially during the first, informal meeting and dinner,
Garzilli approached Nasrin as a woman and a friend, trying to understand
her, and to delve into her public, dramatic personality as a
controversial and criticized writer and polemist, and 
as a symbol of freedom for thousands of women writers in the world. 

Enjoy the Reading! 
Dr. Enrica Garzilli             University of Perugia (ITALY)
Istituto di Linguistica                  Piazza Morlacchi, 11
06100 Perugia               Tel/Fax: +39-75-585 3755 (office)
Intl. Journal of Tantric Studies  (www.shore.net/~india/ijts/)
Journal of S. Asia Women Studies (www.shore.net/~india/jsaws/)

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