On this photograph taken on November 11, 2019, Bangladeshi mother-of-four Mosammat Rashida, whose husband was killed by a Bengal tiger a decade in the past whereas he was accumulating honey, stands subsequent to a mirror at her home in Shyamnagar
Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP
Deserted by her sons, shunned by her neighbours and branded a witch.
Mosammat Rashida’s crime? Her husband was killed by a Bengal tiger.
Ladies like her are ostracised in lots of rural villages in Bangladesh, the place they’re considered as the reason for their accomplice’s misfortune.
“My sons have told me that I am an unlucky witch,” she instructed AFP in her flimsy plank dwelling, within the honey-hunters’ village of Gabura on the fringe of the Sundarbans — a 10,000-square-kilometre (three,860-square-mile) mangrove forest that straddles Bangladesh and India.
Her husband died whereas out accumulating honey within the jungles there.
“Honey-hunters prefer to collect honey mostly in the southwestern Sundarbans, where most of the man-eaters (tigers) live,” main Bengal tiger skilled at Jahangirnagar College, Monirul Khan, instructed AFP.
Tigers are an endangered species however local weather change and human growth are lowering their wild habitat, usually forcing them in the direction of villages in quest of meals.
Wildlife charities estimate there are some 100 tigers within the Bangladesh facet of the Sundarbans.
No less than 519 males died from tiger assaults in 50 villages in a single district — dwelling to half one million folks — between 2001 and 2011, in line with Ledars Bangladesh, a charity serving to widows reintegrate again within the villages.
Their deaths are a double blow for the ladies left behind.
Already grieving the lack of their accomplice, in a single day they turn into ‘tiger widows’ — pariahs of their properties and villages at a time once they most want help.
They’re usually left with little means to help themselves or their households.
– ‘Bring bad luck’ –
Rashida is heartbroken however unsurprised that her grownup sons, aged 24 and 27, deserted her and their two younger siblings.
“They are part of this society after all,” the 45-year-old stated, as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Her tiny shack has no roof — it was blown off by a lethal cyclone — however there have been no gives of assist from neighbours or officers, who she claims helped others within the village however shunned her.
As a substitute, she makes use of an previous tarpaulin to maintain the weather out.
Subsequent door, Mohammad Hossain was fixing his damaged tin roof and confessed he had been instructed by his spouse to not discuss to Rashida.
“It would mar my family’s well-being and could bring bad luck,” the 31-year-old honey-hunter stated.
Officers denied omitting Rashida from the assistance they offered after the cyclone.
However the head of Ledars Bangladesh, Mohon Kumar Mondal, stated the mistreatment of “tiger widows” was widespread in extremely conservative communities, which regularly held “centuries-old” prejudices.
“They (charities) are working to restore the widows’ dignities. The main challenge is to change people’s beliefs,” he defined.
“The change is very slow. Still, I’d say there has been progress,” he added, noting that youthful, extra educated villagers had been much less scared of the widows.
n this photograph taken on November 11, 2019, “tiger widow” Rijia Khatun, whose husband was killed by a Bengal tiger 15 years in the past whereas he was accumulating honey, sits in her home in Shyamnagar.
Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP
– ‘Staying alive’ –
Rijia Khatun, who stated she has learnt to deal with being ostracised by her fellow villagers after her honey-hunter husband’s demise 15 years in the past, has been secretly supported by her nephew and his household.
“My sons were young. But nobody helped me. I felt bad at first as they kept blaming me for my husband’s death. I didn’t know what was my fault,” she recalled, including: “But now I’ve learnt to live with this adversity.”
Her nephew Yaad Ali, who has witnessed a number of assaults together with his uncle’s, defined that whereas he needed to assist, he couldn’t accomplish that publicly.
“We had to do it (help Khatun) with confidentiality or else the village society would have ostracised us as well,” he confessed.
Honey searching has historically been seen as a extra accessible vocation for villagers who can’t afford the tools or boats wanted to undertake the area’s different essential career — fishing.
However fears of being killed by the predators — and the implications for the wives they go away behind — has meant an increasing number of males are choosing a special commerce.
Harun ur Rashid, whose father was killed by a tiger, stated he was now a fisherman, regardless of coming from generations of honey-hunters.
The 21-year-old stated: “My mother doesn’t want me to end up like my father. And I want to stay alive and take care of her because she has suffered a lot and endured enough abuses after my father’s death.”