Bangladesch: Rahela Khatun

Now, I am a person who can speak against injustice, mobilize people to join our struggle against corrupt machineries, and fight for poor peoples' rights to life and livelihood.

— Rahela Khatun

Rahela Khatun was born in 1965 into a large, impoverished family in Noai village, Khulna district. Rising above her poverty and desertion by both father and husband, she mobilizes support against the powerful shrimp aquaculture lobbies that are depriving people of their livelihoods. Despite attempts to introduce shrimp farming by both the government and farmers, her village and adjacent ones continue to be shrimp-free zones.

Rahela Khatun was born in 1965 into a family of eight brothers and two sisters in Noai village, Khulna district. After her father married a second time and abandoned the family, she, her siblings, and her mother worked as manual labor or joined the fishing industry. Rahela, who had neither the time nor the opportunity to go to school, was married off against her will when she was 15 years old. Since 1980, after a meeting with an activist who spoke to her village about landless people's rights, and the environmental dangers and livelihood robbery of shrimp farming, Rahela has been working against commercial shrimp aquaculture and related human rights' violations in her village and neighboring communities. Despite her husband's evident displeasure, Rahela continues her engagement, essentially mobilizing people. In the course of their work, Rahela and her colleagues face intimidation-torture, killing, and terrorizing by the hired goons of shrimp farmers. Riding out several attempts by both government and farmers to introduce shrimp farming, her village and neighboring ones remain shrimp-free zones, even as shrimp culture is literally sweeping the entire area like a commercial epidemic.

Noai Landless Women Organization Deluti Landless Union Committee