Bangladesh and Citizenship: Discrimination against Women

More nation-state woes. Right: so discrimination against women is rampant in Bangladesh, as in other parts of the world. But I was really shocked when i found out recently about some pretty fundamental discrimination: citizenship laws and how they affect women. That seems to me rather critical. Okay so basically I’m a Bangladeshi citizen –> I hold a Bangladeshi passport. Now if a Bangladeshi man marries someone who isn’t a Bangladeshi citizen, fine no problemo mrs. x can become a bangladeshi citizen if she wants to, and basically has the ability to get a ‘Visa Exemption’ stamp in her passport on proving that she’s married to some Bangladeshi bloke. Same with kids of aforementioned bangladeshi bloke - they’re entitled to nationality of their father - if they so choose - and if they don’t get themselves a Bangladeshi passport, they can still get themselves the ‘Visa Exemption’ thingie in their (say) British passport.

Right : so what’s the problem here? Men are able to transmit their nationality - and effectively - rights to visiting their country - to their spouse and children. Fine. You wouldn’t expect any less. But is the same right extended to women? OH NO!

No it isn’t. If you are a Bangladeshi WOMAN : the situation is completely different. Forget about the right to transmit your nationality along, and not even any consideration regarding visiting. You also haven’t the right to pass on your citizenship to your own children. If your child is born in Bangladesh - i guess that’s a different story. ( But i’m not sure of the detail - it generally seems to all rest upon who the father is, if you’re not married goodness knows what would happen. Such a paternalistic system)

So the fact remains, as a Bangladeshi citizen who lives somewhere else, if you’re a man, you can sort your wife and children out, but if you’re a woman, they don’t recognize your right to bring your children into the country, and your husband. They have to apply for visas like any tom dick and harry. so okay they might not mind, and as some folks have said, a bangladeshi passport isn’t something that everyone wants to have. Ha - you don’t say! :-) but that’ ain’t the point. The point is that as a Bangladeshi woman, i am very annoyed with my government for thinking they can coolly make such statements and not piss me off. It’s my right to transmit my nationality to my child if i have one, since a man does. Certainly, it’s discrimination in any case. I’m frightfully annoyed by this.

Patriarchy indeed.

Check out the guidelines for ‘Visa Exemption’ published by the Bangladeshi High Commission, U.K.

I have to do my research to check up what the actual laws surrounding citizenship are in Bangladesh - i’ve heard the mention of the Citizenship Act of 1951 back in the East Pakistan days - which may not have been amended since - who knows - either which way, watch this space for more information. A cursory Google search indicates that there’s a lot of detail to cover on this topic and I think it’s about time the blogosphere picked this up. If anyone has already read about this topic elsewhere please do holler.


The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Convention) is a human rights treaty for women. The UN General Assembly adopted the CEDAW Convention on 19th December 1979. It came into force as a treaty on 3rd September 1981 -CEDAW is one of the most highly ratified international human rights conventions.

I’ve found a statement by one Hameeda Hossain, To the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, On the Fifth Periodic Report of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh at the 31st CEDAW Session, New York, in 2004 - as follows:

“..I would like to raise four critical areas of systemic discrimination against women:..”

And the second item on the list was:

Citizenship Rights: Our second concern is that two outdated laws: The Bangladesh Citizenship Act, 1951 and The Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provisions) Order 1972, deprive women of equal rights in citizenship. The prescription that the right of citizenship be passed on to children from “father and grandfather” is clearly inconsistent with constitutional guarantees of equality in Article 28(1 & 2). Although Article 6 of the Constitution states that citizenship will be determined and regulated by law, but its intention cannot be to create different classes of citizenship. These laws are also inconsistent with Bangladesh’s ratification of Article 9 of CEDAW. The government in its answer to question no 34 of the Committee has stated that the matter was discussed in the meeting of the National Council of Women in September 1992, but a decision was not taken. It is our submission that the amendment required is a minor one of language and not of principles or policy and the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs could, therefore, be tasked, to draft the amendments for adoption by Parliament, within a stated time period. We would further submit that both section 5 of the Bangladesh Citizenship Act 1951 and Bangladesh Citizenship Act (Temporary Provisions) Order of 1972 be amended to remedy discrimination with regard to citizenship.

Written from the perspective of safe-guarding human rights and the Rights of Woman.

Trackbacks & Pings

  1. The Past; Present; and Future on 07 Aug 2006 at 9:35 am

    Bangladesh and Citizenship: Discrimination against women…

    More nation-state woes. Right: so discrimination against women is rampant in Bangladesh, as in other parts of the world. But I was really shocked when i found out recently about some pretty fundamental discrimination: citizenship laws and how they aff…

  2. Womens Learning Partnership: for Rights, Development and Peace at Past Present & Future on 21 Jun 2007 at 1:31 pm

    […] I have written about this problem as affecting Bangladeshi women in the past - not being able to confer nationality upon their children - as it is passed through the father. Essentially this is how I found out about this campaign, one of the WLP activists commented upon my post and pointed me to their work. […]

  3. Womens Learning Partnership: for Rights, Development and Peace « desert and sea: on 21 Jun 2007 at 1:47 pm

    […] I have written about this problem as affecting Bangladeshi women in the past - not being able to confer nationality upon their children - as it is passed through the father. Essentially this is how I found out about this campaign, one of the WLP activists commented upon my post and pointed me to their work. […]

  4. Womens Learning Partnership: for Rights, Development and Peace at Sonia’s Diary on 21 Jun 2007 at 2:00 pm

    […] I have written about this problem as affecting Bangladeshi women in the past - not being able to confer nationality upon their children - as it is passed through the father. Essentially this is how I found out about this campaign, one of the WLP activists commented upon my post and pointed me to their work. […]


  1. Daniel wrote:

    Hey but how wonderful that women like you are there to show them what a woman can do! Some women of the Bangladeshi Diaspora I have encountered are amongst the strongest, most outspoken women I have met. And those I know in a very feminine style! Certainly amongst the people the world ought to hear! I guess it is that experience, the war, and Bangladesh as constantly threathened country (by all sort of disasters)

  2. sonia wrote:

    Thanks Daniel - :-) and as someone else said apparently we are supposed to be very feisty women! still it’s incredible that a country in which the current Prime Minister is a woman, the previous Prime Minister was a woman, but still - look, patriarchy is enshrined in the Constitution.


  3. Sid A wrote:

    Fucking ridiculous! This kind of cultural devaluation of women’s rights is also found in property law. Such that if a man has only daughters, they may not be allowed to inherit his estate unless the man’s brother’s sons (should there be any) waive their right to that estate first! Can you imagine?

    Its the age-old grandfather’s name, father’s name priority that’s still common law in BD.

    Its good you uncovered the Hameeda Hossain statement. There might even be chance that BD will revoke this institutional sexism since it has ratified the CEDAW with a hope that it adopts all the rights specified therein.

  4. sonia wrote:

    Hi Sid, thanks for your comments and pointing to the propery law issue. Yep, there seems to have been quite high-level presentation of this as a major problem, but i guess the government (/s) thinks it’s one of the things it has to worry about the least. I thought it would be useful to try and raise awareness of this - clearly it’s an ongoing issue.

  5. Tanvir wrote:

    Perhaps looking at it from a different and more probable angle would help shed light on why we have this situation. Forgive me for suspecting these rules were not brought about after they weighed up and decided what they thought was the ‘worth of a woman’.

    More likely, it was the consideration of the traditional (and quite dated) attitude toward how a typical extended Bangladeshi family set-up works. The daughters are usually married and live with her husband+family, while the sons stay to live with and (particularly unfair (call it discrimination of you may)pressure on the eldest son) to look after and care for till the end, of his parents; working in the family business (i.e. cultivating the land -the most common Bangladeshi profession).

    Expect the daughter to live with and be a part of her husband’s household and subsequently inherited land/income. Bangladeshis are big on marrying their daughters to families of equal status (the modern equivalent I see being equal education).

    I guess they also hold the view that children should always inherit their father’s nationality and women should inherit their husband’s. Kind of like some cultures work with surnames.

    A very very old school way of thinking, and no doubt to the lay person, another example of Bangladeshi/Muslim/Islamic fanatic (whichever applicable) discrimination, devaluation and worthlessness of a woman. I totally agree all this stuff needs to be revised, but I personally feel a certain approach needs to be taken.

    You know there are people/organizations who love to exaggerate/inflate&publicise certain issues because they have an agenda against Bangladesh/Muslims, say (im going hypothetically here) you bring about a campaign allied (or seen to be allied) with the kind of movements that mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph, and then confrontationally go out all guns blazing accusing the Bangladeshi authorities of discrimination + the usual stuff, including stuff that is just bad pr for the country, they are just going to take one look and decide you are those kinds of trouble makers and its not worth taking notice. Its an awful shame when often good intentions become completely valueless and achieve nothing because they get suspected of being part of groups that don’t have the country’s best interests at heart.

    On the other hand, if you genuinely want to fix this much outdated view point, then a more approachable dialogue is needed.

    As for holders of foreign nationality, they have no right to Bangladeshi citizenship, even if born in Bangladesh; Bangladeshi citizenship is a privilege to those who hold foreign nationality -according to how I was explained the latest laws on the matter, and apparently it maybe revoked from a holder of foreign nationality, or renewal of a Bangladeshi passport could be refused. So I my advice to dual-nationals is keep your Bangladeshi passport up to date!

    Just another random fact to make us laugh, couple of years ago some enterprising Bangladeshis in East London, thought they’d make their own duplicate ‘no visa required seals’ to get around paying the fee, and literally thousands of British-Bangladeshis had these fake seals in their British passports. The Bangladeshi authorities caught on, and decided to check every British passport entering Bangladesh with their database of legit seals, there were a lot of embarrassed people (actually some of them were like those ghetto East Londoners who didn’t really care and were not embarrassed, and infact were just up for a fight) being taken aside at the immigration desks at Zia international airport.

  6. AsifB wrote:

    Important thread highlighting some very basic sexism. Great posts also.

    Sonia’s hunch that it might partly reflect a failure to update old laws from the 50s seems to fit in with Tanvir’s explanation of the history of this issue. But surely attitudes have moved on enough among enough civil servants in Dhaka to get this changed with some simple letter writing?
    Or is there something more obstructive involved.

    Tanvir - thanks for pointing our the dual citiizenship muddle. Its a bit worrying if you’ve not updated since the ‘valid in all countries of the world except Israel, Taiwan and South Africa days.’

    I am afraid that although I sometimes look at the HC website for a laugh - especially at the bit on the Visa form that says (eg; Tablig) next to Tourism (whilst there is a seperate Missionary heading), most Brit Bangladeshis only have time to be bothered about the ‘once a decade’ no visa required stamp.

  7. sonia wrote:

    tanvir - yes- the underlying thinking is outdated - i’m sure as well they didn’t go in for oh let’s see how we can do these women in - but as you yourself point out - their assumptions are that in a patriarchal system - there’s no problems with citizenship being passed through the grandfather and father. well clearly this isn’t acceptable - and regarding your comment re: the approach. well i can see some people may jump on that bandwagon - but that’s besides the point. i am not going to mince my words to not offend some traditionalists out there who’re very touchy. Perhaps when i write about this further i will point out that for example - India - has had this same problem but have now amended their laws. Britain had a pretty similar situation until about the 1930’s. Clearly it’s not to do with religion - most societies have been patriarchal - and many could argue - to some extent still are. I don’t know what kind of ‘approach’ you’re talking about - as i say in the post - clearly this is an ongoing issue, there are women’s groups which have taken this up, Bangladesh has ratified this treaty - so its hardly as if by bringing this to light, it’s attacking ‘Islam’. People who think that clearly haven’t got much faith in their religion. and in any case, why should reform and progress towards human rights in bangladesh be tied up with a religious or anti-religious discourse?

  8. sonia wrote:

    “On the other hand, if you genuinely want to fix this much outdated view point, then a more approachable dialogue is needed.”

    Erm - what do you think? That i’m not genuine/or this is not a genuine attempt?

    I’m not British-Asian, so please leave me out of the touchy-touchy dynamic with discussing anything vaguely asian here. I’m from Bangladesh, I live in London, but as far as I can see, there’s no difference between me speaking out about what i think sitting here, and if i were sitting at home. I really don’t want this issue sidelined in the ‘great East/West struggle’ nonsense - this is an issue about an inequality pure and simple, which according to our own Constitution is discriminatory.

    In any case - moving on - i’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say - “As for holders of foreign nationality, they have no right to Bangladeshi citizenship, even if born in Bangladesh”

    well it depends what you mean - holders of foreign nationality - like a British person you mean? Well you do - if your father/grandfather was a Bangladeshi citizen. Or - as I put in my post up above - if you are a ‘foreign’ woman who has married a Bangladeshi citizen. Of course there are ways for ‘holders of foreign nationality’ to acquire Bangladeshi citizenship - but as I’ve indicated - it depends on one’s social context - and certain parameters.

  9. sonia wrote:

    It’s pretty obvious why we have this situation - i don’t know if anyone thought i was suprised and asking why?

    “Forgive me for suspecting these rules were not brought about after they weighed up and decided what they thought was the ‘worth of a woman’.” Well i wasn’t suggesting so either.

    Bad PR for the country? Whoa! this sounds just like ‘oh we shouldn’t criticize because it’s bad for the country..’ American style nationalism - excuse me? we’re not allowed to ask for the rights we’re supposed to have ( according to our constitution ) ? Hello! I’m a Bangladeshi citizen - if i can’t ask for my rights ‘because it will look bad for the country’ - what the hell am i supposed to do? sit around and look bhodro so no one accuses me of causing trouble.

    Puh-leese. It’s not as if i can turn away and forget about this - my children if i have any have a right to MY citizenship.

    how DARE you suggest otherwise! ‘oh sorry honey - don#t campaign for your rights cos the country might look bad’.

    Ridiculous. And there i was about to start writing about more human rights issues in Bangladesh. i write about human rights issues everywhere - oh but now i can’t say anything about what happens in my own country -’ because it will bad for the country’.
    In any case - this goes beyond an academic point - it affects me directly - and for example, one of my sisters has to constantly apply for visas for her children to visit Bangladesh and their grandparents. My other sister - though - has no such problem - because her husband though British born - was entitled to citizenship because his dad was a Bangladeshi citizen - and therefore his daughter ( my sister’s daughter..) is eligible for citizenship. From the grandfather, via the father. But the fact that all my sisters are Bangladeshi citizens seems to not make a difference in being able to pass this citizenship down to one’s child. i mean - its a bit silly if you can’t take your own child to your country. just takes applying for visas to an extreme! Pshaw..

  10. sonia wrote:

    the fact that i’m focusing on citizenship should make it clear that the issue i have is with the model of social organization that we seem to be stuck with - across the world - the nation-state.

  11. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah wrote:


    Hey girls its me. I was interested in the topic. Man Bengalis are some ignint mofos. Hee Hee. I kid. I like the font on this page. I like to see my brilliance in bold. A little arrogant too huh?

    Anyway no one has a right to wave the rights Allah has given Muslim women. She is entitled to here money and her property.

  12. sonia wrote:

    Thanks for your comment Bikhair! As you say - the rights are acknowledged - in the Constitution, it appears it’s not a matter of priority to correct the language of this 1951 Act - also I guess Pakistani women have the same problem - must look into that angle.

  13. Tanvir wrote:

    In retrosepect, I do sound well patronising in some places in my post dont I? It wasnt directly aimed at you Sonia, actually I was pre-emptively responding to anticipated comments from different parts of the blogworld spectrum that usualy comment on Bangladesh.

    Anyway, so heres my suggestions: Mohila wings of th different political parties and unions in Bangladesh, the students wings are excellent organisations to highlight your cause to, plus womens rights organisations. They have a national womens day, or something like that in Bangladesh. Picking a right time, and with good support, i dont see why you can succeed.

  14. sonia wrote:

    Thanks for your comment Tanvir, and yes you did sound rather patronizing. Still, let’s overlook that.

    As you say, it’s about the right time, and thanks for your suggestions, it sounds from the research i’ve done that the Ministry of Women has already been lobbied by many women’s groups and ’serious’ activists. I thought it’s worth highlighting in the blogosphere - if you really care and wanted to help  just some awareness raising would be good.  It’s hardly just about ‘me’ succeeding - though i am personally affected. A good day to you.

  15. eteraz wrote:

    i have a lawyer friend in ny trying to do work on the HR situation of the biharis.

    if you know about this please email me and i will put you in touch with him.

  16. sonia wrote:

    Thanks Eteraz - one of the other human rights issues ‘floating around’ bangladesh is of course the situation you mention. I saw a site the other day which raised this and as I pointed out, it’s ridiculous to punish the ’sons of the fathers’ and all that business. Children born in Bangladesh should not have to bear the burden. Not at all nice from a human rights angle. Again, one comes up against some subversions of the ‘nationalist’ aim which appears to feel that by giving these children Bangladeshi citizenship we’re somehow ‘negating’ the nationalist cause. Hardly - it’s simply not being unpleasant back.

    ‘Turn the other cheek’ and all that. So yes, I am interested in writing about this and the more people I can speak to who have knowledge about this/are working on it, the better. I’ll be in touch.


  17. AWK wrote:

    I kinda stumbled onto this page when I searched for Bangladeshi citizenship on Google. I used to be a journo in BD and I don’t find any of this surprising (even the remarks about the rights and privileges of who or who shouldn’t be an activist). I guess most of you know that this only the tip, if not part of the inner/outer/outer-outer core, of the iceberg. In terms of citizenship though the least heard voice is the ‘hijra’ community in Bangladesh, who are not only denied voting rights but are perhaps the most ‘untouchable’ group in the country. Just thought I’d put that out there.

    On a different note, I was wondering what Sonia meant in regard to the persistence of the nation-state as dominant authority in social organisation. Specifically, as the arbiter of socio-cultural inclusion/exclusion. So, do you think that if there weren’t an absolute statism in place, alternative and more fluid communal memberships would be able obviate the difficulties faced by Bangladeshi women in gaining citizenship for their children/partners?

    More broadly, I guess, I wanted to flesh out the particular focus of your attack on citizenship and the absolute nature of the nation-state system.

    I’m sorry, but this is my first post on blogs etc, so I’m a little short on any decorum.

    Peace (Am I allowed to say that or am I supposed to be combative and confrontational?)

  18. sonia wrote:

    Hi AWK thanks for your comments - would be very interesting to hear more from you. No doubt you’re right about the ‘tip of the iceberg’ thing.

    When I mentioned the significance of the nation-state ( which obviously then dictates what a ‘citizen’ is or isn’t) i’m simply asking people to use their intellect a bit more about the situation we find ourselves in and what we accept unquestioningly.

    One of the interesting things that came out of this post and was directly relevant to the ‘hegemony’ of ‘national’ culture was precisely the ‘oh don’t say anything otherwise it’ll look bad for the country. {i.e. the abstract idea of ‘country’ is supposed to be more important than real people who actually constitute the country? How clever ..}

    The thing I’m pointing to isn’t that we shouldn’t have some sort of administrative grouping - (really people get confused when I mention the nation-state - perhaps because it’s ‘legitimacy’ is so ingrained us) of one kind or the other. But really to look at the moral and social legitimacy we do give whatever form of administrative organization we’ve chosen- i.e. priveliging the ‘abstract’ entity ( at the end of the day) over the actual living individuals. { So ‘Bangladesh’ as a concept/entity becomes more important to protect than actual individual ‘Bangladeshis’ - say in this context.} So it’s one thing being an individual in a group - and together with other individuals in this group you form an entity X. now if we get to the stage where we give entity X a name and a ‘meaning’ beyond simply being a collection of individuals S,T,U,V, Y, and Z - and we end up with a situation where X is the supreme entity ( though an abstraction) and has more ‘rights’ than any of the individuals involved, there may be a problem. Well i think so - what i mean is what it comes down on the ground is that the ‘concept’ becomes more important than the real people within the concept - I think there’s a problem. Now you can extrapolate this to all sorts of other forms of ‘organization’ or identity - religion, other groups etc. The issue of the nation-state for me is that we seem to have enshrined this problem and actually legitimized it - so people think of this as a ‘natural’ situation. I’m not saying if it weren’t a nation-state we wouldn’t have that problem -> that would be deterministic and clearly the problem is one of how we collectively organize ourselves without losing the importance of the individual by giving the abstract collective primacy.

    So it’s a matter of the social dynamic.

    But we have to realize that in the current system, and with patriotism and nationalism, these issues get confused and the rights of real individuals get ’shoved’ under the carpet. Some of us can’t because we’re tied up with the rhetoric of our imagined communities and feel any such statements are direct attacks on their loyalties. Well they aren’t! ( Hence you see the comment about Bangladesh and looking bad for the country thing was really quite amusing - as it exemplifies the complexities involved)

    All I have to say is - if this is the way that we envision our social forms and groups - that we end up giving precedence to the abstract idea of the collective such that the individuals are suffering as a result ( essentially it’s a competitive dynamic - either the Collective or You) - well that’s a ridiculous dichotomy and not much good is it?

    I hope people can sort of get at what i’m thinking here - there’s definitely a problem and i’m probably not articulating it very well - it certainly is extremely complex.

  19. sonia wrote:

    In any case - I’m interested in your use of the word ‘attack’ - I would say what I am doing is standing up for the rights that we thought we had - perhaps some see that as an ‘attack’ but for me attack has a negative connotation.

    Peace indeed!


  20. AWK wrote:

    Yea, tell me about the complexity! It’s like trying to catch a butterfly with yer posterior orifice. I spent last year writing my thesis on it (well, still working on it) and it’s just ridiculously stultifying. I’m not working with Bangladesh, per se, but worked with the idea of humanitarianism and its link to the politics of identity.

    If it helps at all, from most of what I had researched and written, the nation-state seemed to be perhaps the most sophisticated resolution to problem of social organisation at one point of time (and maybe still is, in some cases). But, the biggest casualty, at this point, is that our continual treatment of the nation-state as unproblematic, natural, ahistorical and absolute (all the things you said; sorry, I’m repeatin here). Yet, there is greater hope and just as much danger, from the idea that people transcend/sub-vert these boundaries to seek help/work with others.

    The whole idea of an imagined community thing comes in here, but as I tried more and more to probe into alternatives, I fell into a bigger web of complexity - as in organisations aren’t some divine a priori truth but ‘we’ perform this imagination etc etc. So, we might have multiple identities and however cosmpolitan we may be, we will still identity or find difference with small and large groups of people. I mean, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have language, for starters (and frankly, I’d lose a lotta cuss words from my head which would make me inoperative).

    Believe it or not, it all came back to setting up traction on the slippery path from difference to Otherness (as in the Other is a dangerous fiend). For which, most still fall back on the buzzwords of tolerance or this point for most of us TINA.

    Bangladesh, in this regard, is jus very very weird. I’m not patriotic, I’m not nationalistic, hell, I’m kinda cynical. But, when I went back to BD to work after grad. and stayed there, it was as if I was a new freedom-fighter. I was applauded on national terms: ‘Deshpremi’ (lit. country-lover/Patriot). This, I was not.

    But, every time I went to criticise the Bangladeshi jingoism and the violence of borders (India-Bangladesh border disputes that continue to result in military, social and structural violence), I was painfully reminded that this was one border that was achieved through blood. For example, every copy I wrote that alluded to Indian casualties during border skirmishes was slapped down. If I tried to defend myself, I was confronted with ‘freedom-fighter’ bosses who would often throw painful memories of loss and pain at me. How do you tell them what your friends and family died for wasn’t a fucking border! Yet, that’s one of the only visible achievement they can point to. If anyone feels jilted, I don’t blame them. Because I find confronting the border-writ-with-blood question somewhat unnerving. But, it has to be done.

    Too many acts of violence are perpetrated in its name…the indigenous, hijras, women, the poor, the bearded and boozy fools like me have felt it from time to time.

    Yet, going to people with what I or you may think is wrong could be quite different from what others who identify, believe etc differently could spell massive problems (not to mention a case for imperious condescention).

    So, other than procrastinating away from my work, what I’ve been trying to say is that if you’re going to renew a focus on a concern with humans rather than citizens, one has to be reminded of the identity/values etc one brings with oneself and who one is working with.

    Rite, well, peace n’ bliss etc.

  21. sonia wrote:

    Hi AWK - Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Yeah it’s pretty difficult eh - if one is seen to be ‘threatening’ the ‘group’ things can get difficult very quickly and people get defensive. What a shame, at the end of the day - my perspective is this: I think about how I would feel in a certain situation, and if i wouldn’t like it, then i wouldn’t wish it on someone else. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and don’t do to someone else what you wouldn’t like being done to you. That’s pretty much the basis of my general reasoning. A lot of people think that’s not much of a basis because it often doesn’t tally with theoretical discussions etc. etc. and treating something as if it’s simply academic, but at the end of the day, hey - we all live life as individuals and can’t get away from that. People who advocate war when it’s not their own precious skin that will be affected etc. etc. don’t seem to get this = but hey!

    I would be interested in seeing your research/ writings . Perhaps you have a blog? ( If not -> that might be a good idea!) In any case, let me know if there’s something out there I could read. I can be reached at globalpoliticos [at]


  22. ahmad wrote:

    hi !how are you? i am ahmad yousof.from dhaka,bangladesh. i love my perents.nation and country. are you love they? so stop against they pleas. sorry. i am wrong. you are right. ok? thanks.

  23. Christina wrote:

    I saw the post on your blog about the nationality issues in Bangladesh.

    I thought I should write to you and tell you about what we are doing at the Women’s Learning Partnership on the same issue.

    We launched a Nationality campaign web blog in Washington DC two weeks ago, .

    The blog features six organizations in the Middle East and North Africa which are working towards changing legislation to ensure equal citizenship rights for women.

    The aim of the blog is to create a network of concerned citizens who want to work together for change as well as to produce a constant resource for women and human rights activists dedicated to this issue.

    We were impressed with your blog and wonder if we might be able to link our two sites together. So that visitors to our site could see your stories and visitors to your site could see our stories as well.

    Many thanks and best of luck with your work in women’s rights,


  24. sonia wrote:

    Hi Christina thanks so much for getting in touch! Thanks for letting me know about your work - I’ll be looking at your site in about 2 seconds, and I’d be most delighted to link to your site. I’ve only put this one post up as ‘initial thoughts’ and it would be really good to be able to link to others’ who’re actively working in this area. Any links to this site would be greatly appreciated of course.

    The Women’s Learning Partnership looks incredibly interesting.

  25. Skip Conover wrote:

    Sonia: I like your work, and would be interested in including you as one of the 30-minute a week radio program moderators on The Words Matter Radio Network. You can find links to the broadcast and “on demand” versions of the network at

    If you have interest, write me with an e-mail address, and I will send you the call for proposals. I am doing my best to make this as easy as possible. I used to work heavily in Bangladesh, but now I’m spending all of my business time in the Middle East.

    Best regards, Skip

  26. mijarul quayes wrote:

    dear sonia,
    let me thank you on your very incisive elaboration concerning a major element of discrimination in our laws. personally, i feel discriminatory laws (citizenship law as well as family law) ceased to have any legal basis after entry into force of our constitution on 16 december 1971. the fundamental rights section of the constitution clearly states that any law not consistent with the provisions of this section shall become invalid and any act passed by parliament not consistent with the fundamental rights section shall not become law. for this, i again hold, that there is no need even to go to court because the constitution gave a clear ruling when it was adopted and subsequently entered into force. the discriminatory “laws” are practiced, despite the constitutional provisions and will not stand if challenged.

    i am looking up developments on this, post cedaw. as far as i have been able to gather, the outgoing government, as of mid-April, was working on major amendments to the nationality laws of Bangladesh, including the provision of revoking someone’s citizenship on ground of sedition. Citizenship issues are now dealt with under “the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary) Order 1972 (President’s Order)”, amended twice in 1973 and 1978. The President’s Order was enacted on the basis of the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951. None of the laws gives the government authority, which the new bill proposes, to revoke the citizenship of anyone on the grounds of sedition or for being harmful to the state.

    In Pakistan, the citizenship act provides some grounds for involuntary loss of citizenship. The grounds are a person’s obtaining foreign citizenship, naturalized citizenship obtained through fraud or falsity, disloyalty of a naturalized citizen to the government, conviction of a naturalized citizen of crime in the first five years of citizenship and residency outside the country for over seven years without registering with the Pakistani consulate.

    In India, where dual citizenship is not allowed, people cease to be citizens of India on voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of another country. In no country, the government has authority to revoke anyone’s citizenship on the grounds of sedition or for being harmful to the state, experts said. The draft in question proposes six modes of acquiring citizenship of Bangladesh. A person born in Bangladesh will be considered a citizen if either of the parents is a citizen of Bangladesh at the time of his or her birth, said the sources.

    The existing law allows no one to be a citizen of Bangladesh by birth if his or her father is not a citizen at the time of his or her birth. A person born outside Bangladesh will be considered a citizen by descent, if either of the parents was a citizen of Bangladesh at the time of his or her birth, the bill says.

    According to the bill, citizenship by registration can be acquired by persons of Bangladeshi origin, who were or either of whose parents was born in Bangladesh and who are ordinarily resident in Bangladesh for five years, persons of Bangladeshi origin who are ordinarily residents in any country or outside Bangladesh, persons married to a citizen of Bangladesh and minor children either of whose parents is a Bangladesh citizen.

    Citizenship by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner who is ordinarily resident in Bangladesh for five consecutive years. The bill provides for acquiring citizenship by registration and naturalization and for dual citizenship.

    The bill says Bangladesh citizens by birth that adopt the nationality of another country will not lose their citizenship, unless they renounce their claims to the citizenship before competent authorities. It, however, says any Bangladesh citizen will lose citizenship, if he or she adopts citizenship of a country with which Bangladesh has no diplomatic relation.

    i will update you whe i get some further details on the status of the draft bill.

    best wishes

  27. mijarul quayes wrote:

    This is further to my note of the 16th. there has been some, albeit peripheral, forward movement in getting equality for women in the nationality laws context. I refer to the latest visa regulations that provide equal treatment for foreign spouses (husband or wife) and children of a Bangladeshi national (man or woman).change in the
    According to Bangladesh home office circular ma./bohi-2/1pi-7/2006/2879, dated 19 october, a 1-year multiple visa would be issued to foreign spouses and children of a Bangladesh national for travel to and stay in bangladesh. This can be extended for a period of 5 years. the bangladeshi spouse needs to produce proof of her/his nationality, an affidavit concernign her/his spouse/ children and the marriage certificate. The extension would be subject to the required ploice report. Previously, this was applicable only for foreign wives and children of male Bangladeshis and was not applicable for bangladeshi women whose husbands or children were holding foreign passports.

  28. sonia wrote:

    Thanks very much for the info Mijarul

  29. sonia wrote:

    Of course the question will be how quickly is this going to be disseminated to the Embassies and High Commissions across the world. there is no mention of this on the Bangladeshi HC website for example - so I guess I will be applying for a ‘tourist’ visa for my husband! :-)

  30. Tarique Mohammod wrote:

    Dear Bangladeshi,

    Thank you all, in our country has a proverb all Bangladeshi are cheat. But I clam it is not true. I would like to make friendship who live in london for long time if any body like please reply me.

    Thank You
    Tarique Mohammod

  31. sonia wrote:

    can friendship be ‘made’? :-)

  32. hossain wrote:

    I am hossain bangladeshi. I want friendship with bangladehi women.

    mobile - 00966566295251
    saudi arabia.

  33. hossain wrote:

    I want friendship with bangladeshi women.
    age 17- 24 .

    mobile - 00966566295251
    saudi arabia.

  34. Blackdaisy wrote:

    On the note of “visa exempt” stamp - does this stamp allow for the foreign wife/child of the Bangladesh citizen to work in the country or do they have to apply for work permits separately for this?

  35. Blackdaisy wrote:

    On the note of “visa exempt” stamp: does this stamp allow for the foreign wife/child of the Bangladesh citizen to work in the country or do they have to apply for work permits separately for this?

  36. sonia wrote:

    I don’t know about that precisely Blackdaisy - i think the no visa stamp allows them to go in and out. But if they wanted to live in the country, i daresay they wouldn’t apply for work permits, they’d just apply for a Bangladeshi passport - which as the wife of a or the child of a bangladeshi man - they would be entitled to.

  37. aimaan wrote:

    hi sonia,
    the latest news is i have gone through all of those mails ,it seems u r more concern about the women.but what about men.
    let me know about ur thoughts about bangladeshi men are not practicing their rights because of social barrier.
    by take care

  38. Afiya wrote:

    Hi sonia, I have gone through the worst, married a bangladeshi and well men or women they are the same they just want to be british and along the way, what makes it better for them is that if you get pregnant, its a bonus for them, {makes the process of becoming british quicker} anyway it would be nice to hear from you, bye bye.

  39. H.M OMAR FARUK wrote:

    bangladesh is a wonderful country accept for some people

  40. MariamImran wrote:

    Salamz 2 all….My name is Mariam, i m a bangladeshi citizen having a bangladehsi passportliving nworking in kuwait. My am getting married to a pakistani national. He plans to travel with me to Bangladehs (with a valid visit visa ofcourse) to get married there as our parents are agaisnt it. Is this possible? i wuld like 2 know what are the laws regarding this.
    need assistance…

    Please contact me by email:

  41. sonia wrote:

    Hi Mariam - good luck! I’ll drop you a line with whatever I find - I can’t see why an adult that you would need your parents’ permission so i imagine it should be alright - but then again I wouldn’t know. I’ll drop you a line.

    *fingers crossed!*

  42. Md. Mamun wrote:

    I want to know more about you & the topic.

  43. Md. Mamun wrote:

    I want to know more about you & the topic.

  44. Rafiya wrote:

    Hi Sonia,
    This Rafiya. Unfortunately I am in those group of women ………got married with an indian guy….and got a baby last year. Now my husband wants to settle in banglaesh and get the Passport but as far as i know there is no rights as a Bangladeshi woman to pass the citizenship even to the child .
    I go through all of your emails. If u know that any changes Bangladesh Govt made recently about this issue. Please let me know I will be very grateful to you.Its very difficult for us if we go to visit my husband or Child even don’t get double entry visa forget about “no visa Stamps”.Please go ahead with your campain we are the sufferers are with you.

  45. sonia wrote:

    Hi Rafiya, i emphathize! - and him being Indian makes it even more difficult! ( We have these funny restrictions, India and Bangladesh - with each other - I had to work really hard to get a double entry visa into india last dec.)

    i will do my best to find out if there are any updates, but to be honest with you - what with the state of the country now, with the caretaker government, i doubt any changes will be made soon. Still - in the meantime, what is useful is to be aware of what rights we do have, and make as many people aware of this so touch wood, when democracy *is back* then we can push hard for reforming the nationality law. Also any networking we do to find out just how many of us are affected - is useful.

    Good luck + all the best,

  46. Sudiwpta Kumar Roy wrote:

    Bangladesh is a beautiful Country but here have so many problems. I wanted and never get. Its the actual reality in this country. But in country i seen mother in our country, they are very important and respectable. They would make their sons such as national hero. So where the problem to solve it? We should identify leadership of our admin to lead and solve it. I think there is the main pro to hang the present setuation. Present time we feel govt. leadership can something to the motherland. It also protact our country and women.

    So should save leadership and take action to protact our future.


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