‘I do seek at­ten­tion for my ac­tivism’

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Aditya Do­gra ■ aditya.do­gra@htlive.com

If there was ever a re­ally strong swim­mer against the tide, Tas­nim Jara is one. By now, thanks to so­cial me­dia, this Bangladeshi doc­tor and her plain wed­ding sari have got more than 120,000 re­ac­tions and 30,000 shares. Tas­nim wore it be­cause a) she wanted to re­sist the stereo­type of the dolled-up bride ad­ver­tis­ing her fam­ily’s sta­tus; and b) it was her late grand­mother’s sari, and Tas­nim wanted to keep her grandma very close to her­self on this mem­o­rable day.

“When I de­cided to dress my way on my wed­ding, some of my rel­a­tives sup­ported me, while oth­ers tried to doll me up,” she tells us. “The lat­ter group… feared that peo­ple would think less of me and my fam­ily.” But Tas­nim is no pushover. As the pres­i­dent of Aroggo, a health care start-up in Bangladesh, and a for­mer pres­i­dent of a UN Youth Ad­vi­sory panel, she’s ca­pa­ble of han­dling pres­sure. She asked her rel­a­tives, how did makeup, gold, or an ex­pen­sive sari in­crease a bride’s or her fam­ily’s worth? “I was told, ‘Eguli korte hoy (This is what is done)’... None of them could give me a good enough rea­son why I re­ally should, apart from giv­ing in to so­cial pres­sure.”

Some online re­ac­tions have called her an at­ten­tion-seeker, and Tas­nim agrees. “I’m a so­cial ac­tivist and the whole point of my ac­tivism is seek­ing at­ten­tion for an is­sue I care deeply about,” she says.

Tas­nim urges peo­ple to add their voice to em­pow­er­ing mes­sages. “I don’t want to be an ad­vo­cate of how women should dress up for their wed­ding,” she says. “[But] if we see a girl be­ing forced to do some­thing against her will just be­cause she was born a girl, please take the re­spon­si­bil­ity to protest against this.”

[My hus­band] told me, ‘I am very proud to see that you’re stand­ing up for what you be­lieve in. In case you need sup­port, know that here’s a per­son who is will­ing to go miles’ TAS­NIM JARA, DOC­TOR

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