The day would probably be remembered in history for a long time to come. The country's first ever lesbian comic character -Dhee was launched through an event held at the British Council last week, on September 5. The initiative called Project Dhee has been launched by BOB (Boys of Bangladesh) to raise awareness amongst the mass and take forward the movement of LGTB community in Bangladesh.
Homosexuality has always been a sensitive issue. It has been ignored and filled with untold stories from time immemorial. Today, time is changing, but not as fast as some would like it to. However, there are many who are coming forward to talk about such issues. Dhee is the outcome of a long struggle against the ignorance towards the LGTB community in Bangladesh.
In Bangla “Dhee” means intellect, knowledge or comprehension, which is why the character was named after the project to share information with people.
Ann McConnell, director of the American Centre at the US Embassy in Dhaka, Ms Khushi Kabir, the coordinator of Nijera Kori and Barister Sarah Hossain were speakers at the event, among others.
"You just can't achieve human rights without a fight," says Sarah Hossain. "I am glad that organisers arranged such an event and took the initiative."
Sifat Reza,one of the audiences says that she came here to support the cause from her conscience and responsibility towards society.
The event also featured theatrical performances, music, dance and monologues. Esha Yusuf portrayed “Dhee” at the event. Her powerful performance engaged the audience emotionally throughout the presentation. “I was never raised to see things differently, which is why when BOB offered me the character I said yes, even though I didn't have enough time to practice,” she says.
In November 2013, the government of Bangladesh acknowledged Hijras (Transgender ) as a third sex – indeed a phenomenal decision for the human rights situation of the country. On the other hand, with advancement of time the situation has been changing slowly and progressive people have been accepting the idea of LGTBT rights. The first attempt to have an LGBT organisation was taken in 1999. In January of 2014 the first LGBT magazine called “Roopban” was published.
However, Boys of Bangladesh commonly known as BOB was formed in 2002 as a yahoo group which is the oldest and largest group working for the LGTB community in Bangladesh.
According to one of the content developers for BOB, Project Dhee has a lot of components. "It targets to organise workshops in every district on gender discrimination and sexuality," he says.
The story of Dhee has been told in a comic strip and colourful flashcards have been used as medium to reach general people. According to BOB there is a reason they wanted Dhee to be a female character. The LGBT movement has been male dominated and BOB wanted to bring about a change in the situation.
The young girl Dhee, through her stories of growing up, addresses different issues relating to gender and sexuality. Stories of Dhee will be used to conduct 15 campaigns countrywide to spread knowledge and information about gender discrimination and sexuality.
Sexual orientation is not the only subject to discuss, however. The audience would want to find and feel the emotions behind each story. And that is exactly what Dhee will do in the coming months.