Allegation of Sexual Harassment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh

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WC Desk:

(Translated  excerpt from Sarabangla.net)

Image Source: Internet

 

 Alarming news of accusation has come from Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh –  a woman officer was being harassed for the past five years. The woman officer brought up the allegation that in 2015, her unborn child’s heart rate was stopped due to the harassment by her colleagues in the office. The victim gave birth to a premature baby in the midst of the persecution.

The woman, who was the victim of harassment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had filed a written complaint in 2015, but no investigation has been done so far. On the contrary, a departmental lawsuit was filed against that woman. An attempt is being made to dismiss the woman by framing her as psychologically unwell by showing a fake medical certificate.

A constant search of Sarabangla revealed that the victim’s name is Monju Monowara. She is an officer of 27 batches of BCS (Foreign) cadre (cadre contact 0325). In 2015, She had made a written allegation against her fellow embassy counselor named Mohamed Noor-e-Alam (now the Councilor of Bangladesh Permanent Mission in New York) while she was working as the first secretary at the Bangladesh Embassy in Tokyo.

In a charge sheet submitted to the Foreign Secretary on 25th June 2015; Mrs. Monju Monowara said that the counselor of the embassy, Mohammad Noor-e- Alam, was constantly harassing her.

In the indictment, Monju Monowara said, “The horror of persecution took its extreme when (on June 12, 2015), Mohammad Noor-e- Alam threatened me to abuse physically during my pregnancy.” Because of this, I got shaken and totally scared and I have faced an emotional trauma. As a result, on July 7 of that year, my unborn baby’s heartbeat stopped in my womb. “

According to the charge sheet, the authority of foreign ministry transferred Monju Monowara from Tokyo to India’s Mumbai mission without conducting any kind of inquiry into the complaint which Monju Monowara has filed.

But the counselor of the Mumbai Mission (now FSO) at that time threatened to stop Manju Monowara from joining the Mumbai mission and when Monju Monowara went to Mumbai for work in October of that year, she was not allowed to enter the mission building first. Later, Monju Monowara was physically and mentally tortured in a by capturing her in a room of Mumbai Mission. She was taken to the ICU (Intensive Care Center) in Bombay Hospital when she fell ill.  Then on 7 November 2015, Monju Monowara was brought back to Dhaka and added to the Administration Department of the Foreign Ministry. On her return home, she conceived again and reported the matter to the ministry on May 22.

In such a case, right before the noon on June 25 of that year, the Foreign Secretary in an e-mail message signed by Shahidul Haque, mentioned 10 allegations against Monju Monowara as to why she would not be sacked and sent a letter seeking her reasons within 7 days. Later that same afternoon, another e-mail message was sent by withdrawing the previous e-mail. Monju Monowara’s pre-mature child was born on July 23 due to the mental trauma of sudden incidents. 

The incident did not end here, after this-  a harassing departmental case was filed against her. The investigating officer of the case ordered her not to disclose the actual facts anywhere. Monju Monowara is being harassed in various ways including punitive measures, destruction of family life involved in false cases, harassment of irrelevant witnesses, promotion of abortion, non-submission of ACR.

An investigation report of the departmental case filed against her revealed that thirty-four foreign ministry officials and employees have testified in the investigation in support of her. On the other hand, the foreign ministry had brought seventeen witnesses against her in front of the investigating officer. Though not involved in the incident, many of the ministry’s junior officers, Pion, and the driver, were forced to testify against Monju Monowara.

But despite coming to testify against them, most did not mention any allegations raised by Monju Monowara. Most of the witnesses made responded saying ‘Don’t know’, ‘Don’t remember’ etc. Foreign Ministry Investigation Team had accused Manju Monowara of being a patient of psychological disorder. For this, the Chairman of the Department of Medicine of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. A six-member medical board was formed under the leadership of ABM Abdullah. The medical board certifies that Monju Monowara is healthy and normal (Found No Physical Gynecological and Mental Abnormality) after the examination.

Not only that, but the Ministry of External Affairs also obtained fake certificates (Sarabangla has the information) in order to portray Monju Monowara as an emotionally imbalanced person. However, according to section 7 of 14 of Indian Medical Ethics 2002, the hospital authority cannot grant any medical certificate to a patient seeking medical care to a third party application except the honorable high court order.

Out of this, on April 23, there has formed a ‘Committee on Anti-Women Persecution and Sexual Abuse Complaint’ under the direction of the Foreign Minister. Monju Monowara appealed to the committee to seek a remedy. But the administration of the Foreign Ministry canceled the ‘Anti-Women Abuse and Sexual Abuse Complaints Committee’ formed on April 23 to save the perpetrators and harassers of Monju Monowara.

According to the Foreign Ministry documents, Mohammed Noor-e-Alam proposed withdrawing and settling down the matter to Monju Monowara by the help of a director of the ministry in the middle of last year. She was told that if she withdrew the complaint, she would have a better posting and promotion. But Monju Monowara rejected the proposal and hoped for justice.

Foreign Secretary- Shahidul Haque told to Sarabangla, that “This is a very old and legal matter. So it wouldn’t be right to comment on it anymore. ‘

When asked about the matter to the victim, Monju Monowara, she told Sarabangla that, “I have respect for the law. I want justice and am hopeful too. I don’t want to say more than this. “

 

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