When Bangladesh was celebrating its newly-found victory in the 1971 Liberation War against the Pakistan occupation forces, the fight for many rape victims was far from over.
Fearing, quite validly, that the society would not accept war babies, many went for abortions while many others abandoned their newborns.
And one of those abandoned babies was Shama Jameela Mollie Hartt, who was later adopted by a Canadian couple and taken to that country on July 19, 1972. But Shama's love for her biological mother and motherland is still strong and that love brought her back to Bangladesh after 45 years.
Shama along with her daughter flew into Bangladesh on Friday crossing over thousands of miles from Canada to spend a few days here and know this country and its people.
“It would be nice to meet her. I would pay my respect. I think what these women [rape victims of 1971] went through was incredibly courageous...They are heroes,” Shama said pointing to her biological mother.
She said she tried hard but failed to get any information about her mother because there is nothing on record.
During the Liberation War, Pakistani occupation army and its local collaborators killed around 30 lakh people and violated over two lakh women in Bangladesh.
Shama was one of the 15 war babies adopted by 14 Canadian couples. Joel and Trudy Hartt took Shama with them and raised her along with their other children.
Yesterday, Liberation War Museum organised a dialogue between Shama and students of two private universities at its Sher-e-Banglanagar complex.
A schoolteacher by profession, Shama said she found the Bangladeshis very generous and over-whelming.
War researcher Mustafa Chowdhury, a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi origin who wrote the book titled "71' er Juddhoshishu: Obidito Itihash", said Shama had expressed her willingness to visit Bangladesh.
Saying that there are many other war babies who do not come out fearing social stigma, he said it is saddening that the culture of accepting them is still absent in Bangladesh.
Dr Nuzhat Choudhury Shampa, daughter of martyred physician Abdul Alim Chaudhury, invited Shama to stand for the rape victims and raise voice against the perpetrators of the Liberation War.
Liberation War Museum Trustee Sarwar Ali expressed gratitude to the parents who adopted the war children.