ONETHE WORLD’S WORST HUMANRIGHTS CRISIS
were born around the same time in mygrandmother’s house in Dhaka. One was a girl – myself. The other wasa boy, Fajal, born to my grandmother’s maid. Growing up as childrenin the same household, we often played together. I remember Fajal asa bright child, keen to draw pictures, make toys out of tin cans andpieces of string, and run around the yard, singing loudly.As we grew older, our lives went their different ways. I wentto school, then on to university abroad and a successful internationalcareer. Fajal was also sent to school but dropped out after a yearbecause the teacher and his schoolmates teased and taunted him forbeing the child of a domestic servant. His mother put him to workin a state-run factory. Considered a man at the age of 18, he marrieda 14-year-old girl from a village, and soon became a father. When hisfactory was privatized a few years later, he agitated with otherworkers and was sacked. My family gave him money to buy arickshaw and he did reasonably well until political violence andinsecurity on the streets drove him out of business. He then driftedinto petty crime and was badly beaten by the police. Unable toafford proper medical care, he never fully recovered from hisinjuries. Today, he is disabled and lives in a shack inone of Dhaka’s sprawling slums with his children andgrandchildren, surviving on handouts and his son’smeagre income.
Childrenqueuingforwater.Mohammadpur,Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 2008.©Murtada H.Bulbul/Drik/Majority World