The state of gender relations in Bangladesh is in such a precarious position that the experience of all women, regardless of their stratum, is filled with fear, anxiety and even paranoia. The outrage currently plaguing the country over rape and gender-based violence is an indictment that the problem is very real. However, life does not end and despite their absolute discomfort, many women have to travel alone, while some have to spend the night away from the safety of their families.
In such cases, accommodation in expensive hotels is hard to afford for many, and cheap hotels may also not be enough due to inadequate security measures.
Taking these issues into consideration, the Bidyanondo Foundation created “Bashonti Nibash” in March. Opened on Women’s Day, this women-only hostel is located in Pallabi, Mirpur, with continuous CCTV surveillance and other security measures. One night costs 199 Tk.
The hostel offers affordable accommodation for women and includes contemporary requirements such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, laundry services and a computer zone. It does not allow an extended stay, although under special circumstances it allows guests to stay a maximum of seven days.
For students staying one night, the same package is only offered at Tk 1 for the first night and at Tk 199 per night from the second night.
“Our volunteers have to travel a lot for work,” says Rakhima Khatun, a foundation volunteer who manages Bashonti Nibash. “During one of these trips, a volunteer and her husband checked into a cheap hotel for the night, where they were harassed by a few local disbelievers.”
“The question was then raised by the volunteer during a conversation with our founder, who is committed to creating an affordable and safe hostel for women. This is how our journey began, ”she said.
Rakhima said, “The premises are under CCTV surveillance and no men are allowed to enter the hostel. Volunteers are present to help the guests get settled. In addition, we have informed the local police station of the way we operate and, if necessary, we can always ask them for help. “
Currently the hostel can accommodate up to 36 people. Each guest has their own bunk bed in the form of medium sized capsules. They also have a private shower and bathroom, as well as a small dining area.
“I learned about the hostel from a friend,” said Jyotika Khisa Joyi, a visiting student from Khagrachhari. “The best part about this place is that the girls can be left alone here without fear, and that too for such a low price,” Joyi adds.
Farjana Zabin Dola, visiting the capital of Kushtia for medical purposes, said: “The current situation regarding the safety of women in our country is dire. But with the safety facilities at this hostel, parents can feel confident to leave. their daughters stay here. ”