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How an Australian doctor tried to help rape victims of Bangladesh

“I was trying to save of what have survived of the children born during the time that the West Pakistani army had Bengali women incarcerated in their commissariats.”– Dr. Geoffrey Davis

Raped and made pregnant by a Pakistani soldier, this teenage girl was leaving her newborn child for adoption at Mother Teresa’s Home.

Dr. Bina D’Costa of Australian National University fulfilled a historic task by interviewing Dr. Geoffrey Davis of Australia on his tasks performed in 1972 in helping rape victims through abortions. The interview was conducted in 2002 and Dr. Davis died in 2008. This is a great service done because Dr. Davis performed a unique task and remains one of the most authentic witnesses of 1971 war’s brutality.

There are several elements of the issue that comes out in the interview. That rape was endemic in 1971 contrary to some contentions that it was isolated. According to him, the numbers were high and many were forced to get abortions. “It is difficult to put a figure in it. About 100 a day in Dhaka and in variable numbers in lot of other towns. And some would go to Calcutta…(for abortions)”

Dr. Davis’ interview suggests that abortion camps were held in different parts of the country. Many were extremely risky abortions that threatened life and health of the women. As a specialist in late abortions, he was brought in at the behest of several agencies.

Rape was not the only issue but war babies were also a major problem that needed addressing. There were several agencies that became involved in organising these war children’s transfer to Europe where babies in new homes were very welcome. It had coincided with restrictions on availability of babies for adoption there.

While rape was a victimisation process that involved the Pakistanis, the response to the raped and the impregnated by the Bangladeshis were horrific. According to Dr. Davis these mothers of raped children were treated in the worst possible way by many of their husbands or family members. He says, “And the men didn’t want to talk about it at all! Because according to them the women had been defiled. If they had been defiled they had no status at all. They might as well be dead. And men killed them. I couldn’t believe it!” Rape victims suffered from both sides.

Of course, one of the most chilling testimonies given by Dr. Davis is about the attitude of the rapists, the Pakistani soldiers. Taking about the rape strategy, Davis says, “They’d keep the infantry back and put artillery ahead and they would shell the hospitals and schools. And that caused absolute chaos in the town. And then the infantry would go in and begin to segregate the women. Apart from little children, all those were sexually matured would be segregated while the rest of the infantry tied…  And then the women would be put in the compound under guard and made available to the troops.”

Dr. Davis adds, “The West Pakistani officials didn’t get why there was so much fuss about that. I interviewed a lot of them. And they were saying, ‘What are they going on about? What were we supposed to have done? It was a war.”

Dr. Davis’s interview also sheds light on the efforts of the new government regarding the rape victims such as organising shelters, abortion clinics and even counselling for rape victims. Admittedly, these were inadequate compared to need but there doesn’t seem to be shortage of good intentions at that point of time. The role of the people who were involved deserve to be mentioned more and when located, they need to interviewed.

They need to be interviewed because as Dr. Bina D’Costa says, “… our national narrative is being affected by the historical amnesia.”  Herself a scholar on the impact of violence on ordinary lives particularly in war and conflict situations, she has done a tremendous work by documenting this information. Her PhD. thesis is on the Bangladesh rape victims and how traditional society responded to it. She has continued to work on similar topic as it affects other cultures and societies and she is a significant voice on the 1971 discourses.

We hope the interview will be illuminating and educative to all who wish to know about the event as it happened in 1971. It will do well to remember that this is not a document to demonise a people that is Pakistanis but demonises a process which the Pakistan army and the government adopted in 1971.

* * *

Dr. Bina D’Costa introduces Dr. Davis, the circumstances of the meeting and then follows it with the interview. It was conducted in 2002.

“Documents pointed to a certain physician, Dr. Geoffrey Davis who had been working in the war-torn Bangladesh in 1972. The following is his interview which I conducted in Sydney partly at his residence and later on in a Portuguese restaurant nearby. This interview demonstrates the need to document micro-narratives, the stories of men and women who had been involved in our nation-building project. While many of us are immersed in petty politics our national narrative is being affected by the historical amnesia.

The readers should bear in mind that Dr. Davis has been remembering with my inquiries what happened almost 32 years ago. Therefore, in some places the responses may seem blurred.

Dr. Geoffrey Davis, a Medical Graduate from Sydney, NSW, Australia worked in Bangladesh from March, for about six months in 1972. He worked under the auspices of International Planned Parenthood, the UNFPA and the WHO. He begins by remembering that no particular organisation wanted to claim him as one of their own due to the extremely sensitive nature of his work.

Dr. Davis remembers, ‘I was trying to save of what have survived of the children born during the time that the West Pakistani army had Bengali women incarcerated in their commissariats. And all of the ones who had not come to term, our brief was to endeavour them to abort the foetuses so that they didn’t bear children as diseased and undernourished as was the case. And that we succeeded in doing. The numbers of everything in Bangladesh did.

* * *

Dr. Geoffrey Davis
Dr. Geoffrey Davis

Bina D’Costa: What made you interested to volunteer for this service?

Geoffrey Davis: I had a technique for terminating advanced pregnancy. I received training mainly from the UK. However, I usually terminated under 30 weeks pregnancy.

B: Where in Dhaka did you work?

GD: I worked at the clinic in Dhanmondi. I also worked in most of the other towns in what was left of hospitals. What I was doing mainly…the numbers were so huge…I set out to train people in those towns to do what I was doing and as soon as they got the hang of it, I moved on to the next place.

B: For the purpose of the record will you please specify what exactly were you doing over there?

GD: The women’s rehabilitation organisation had been formed just before I headed for Bangladesh. Justice Sobhan was in charge of the organisation. They were trying to keep all the pregnant women together somewhere safe and all those who were feasible, we were to abort and the others who had delivered, we were to get their children to International Social Services (ISS).

B: Do you remember the others who worked with you at that time?

GD: Justice Sobhan headed the War Rehabilitation Organisation and the main active person was Von Schuck…I can’t remember his first name. I think his wife’s name was Mary. They helped with finances. The names of the Bengali officials I don’t remember…besides, nobody wanted to know about this history…

B: What makes you say that?

GD: Oh, because it involved abortion and adoption of babies. And one aspect was that West Pakistan was a commonwealth country and all the officers were trained in England. It was hideously embarrassing for the British government. The West Pakistani officials didn’t get why there was so much fuss about that. I interviewed a lot of them. They were in a prison in Comilla and in pretty miserable circumstances. And they were saying, ‘What are they going on about? What were we supposed to have done? It was a war!’

B: How did they justify raping the women?

GD: They had orders of a kind or instruction from Tikka Khan to the effect that a good Muslim will fight anybody except his father. So what they had to do was to impregnate as many Bengali women as they could. That was the theory behind it.

B: Why did they have to impregnate the women? Did they tell you?

GD: Yes, so there would be a whole generation of children in East Pakistan that would be born with the blood from the West. That’s what they said.

B: Numerous documents from Pakistan still suggest that the number of rapes had been grossly exaggerated. Do you think that’s true?

GD: No. Probably the numbers are very conservative compared with what they did. The descriptions of how they captured towns were very interesting. They’d keep the infantry back and put artillery ahead and they would shell the hospitals and schools. And that caused absolute chaos in the town. And then the infantry would go in and begin to segregate the women. Apart from little children, all those were sexually matured would be segregated while the rest of the infantry tied… the rest of the town, which would involve shooting everybody who was involved with the East Pakistani government or the Awami League. And then the women would be put in the compound under guard and made available to the troops.

B: Did you have any conversation with the men and women or the social workers at the clinic about their experiences of the war, especially the women about rape camps in particular?

GD: Yes, we used to hear about it all the time. Some of the stories they told were appalling. Being raped again and again and again. By large Pathan soldiers. All the rich and pretty ones were kept for the officers and the rest were distributed among the other ranks. And the women had it really rough. They didn’t get enough to eat. When they got sick, they received no treatment. Lot of them died in those camps. There was an air of disbelief about the whole thing. No body could credit that it really happened! But the evidence clearly showed that it did happen.

B: Yes, I see what you mean. Because you know I myself over the last four years have tried to locate the women. The numbers were huge and one would expect to find a lot of them. But I myself could only find a very limited number of women.

GD: Yes, there had been lot of denial. And they just blocked it out. That happens.

B: Was it different at that time, immediately after the war? Did anyone share their experiences?

GD: No, no body wanted to talk about it. You could ask questions and get an answer. But quite often it would be that they couldn’t remember. And the men didn’t want to talk about it at all! Because according to them the women had been defiled. If they had been defiled they had no status at all. They might as well be dead. And men killed them. I couldn’t believe it!

B: You couldn’t obviously speak Bengali. Was it difficult to communicate?

GD: No, I had an interpreter. They got fairly organised very quickly. They provided me with a Land Rover, a driver and a field officer who was also my interpreter. The driver’s name was Mumtaz. But I can’t remember the field officer’s name… a government official. An amazing number of them speak English. I didn’t have any difficulty that I faced in Tunisia (Dr. Davis also worked extensively with the Tunisian population policy programme).

newwpaper clipping of Pakistan brutality on Bangladeshi women
newwpaper clipping of Pakistan brutality on Bangladeshi women

B: In your opinion, why do you think the women remained silent?

GD: Horror, you see. They all had nightmares. You never get over it! A lot of them had tremendous anxiety. Because we were foreign and they didn’t trust anybody who was foreign. They didn’t know what we were going to do to them…

B: Did you visit any areas where the rape camps were situated?

GD: Rape camps had been disbanded and the Rehabilitation Organisation was trying to get the women back to their village or town. But what was happening in a lot of instances was that they’d get a wife back to the husband and he would kill her. Because she had been defiled. And in some cases they didn’t want to know about what happened. And there were bodies in Jamuna right up to the distant parts of the country. And it was that what got people excited in Europe in what was going on.

B: Do you remember the women? How many you were performing abortion on?

GD: It’s hard to recall the exact statistics. But about hundred a day.

B: In Dhaka or in other parts of Bangladesh?

GD: It is difficult to put a figure in it. About 100 a day in Dhaka and in variable numbers in lot of other towns. And some would go to Calcutta…

B: Do you recall the percentage? For example, class-wise, religion-wise how many women you saw?

GD: It was right across the classes. We didn’t care what they were religion-wise…we had to get them out of trouble. In general, of course the rich ones were able to leave the country as soon as there was an armistice and go to Calcutta to get abortion and they did that…

B: Were the women asked if they wanted to have abortion? Were they given the choice?

GD: Yes. Certainly. All the women we received wanted to have abortions. On the other hand, the women, who had delivered, handed the newborn babies over to the rehabilitation organisation. And that’s how they got to the ISS and other countries. How many, I have no idea.

B: Do you recall women crying or being visibly upset during the abortion procedure?

GD: No, none of them cried. They were very impressive. They didn’t cry at all. They just stayed very quiet. That made it easier for us!

B: You mentioned that you only provided treatment to the women who chose to abort their babies. I just want to return to that point. Who did the women give their consent to: the involved doctors, nurses or social workers about terminating their pregnancies?

GD: Oh, Yes.

B: Did they have to sign a paper?

GD: I think they had to sign a document of consent. I am not sure though. The government indirectly organised that. It was organised largely by the Rehabilitation Organisation. And the women who were helping with that. No body got near the clinic who hasn’t agreed to have an abortion, that’s for sure. So, that was not an issue.

B: Did you perform abortion till the very end? Wouldn’t that be at a stage of advanced pregnancy?

GD: Yes, I terminated pregnancy for all six months I had been there. They had such a degree of malnutrition that a term foetus of 40 weeks was about the same size as 18 weeks anywhere else.

B: Do you recollect the women or the children receiving any kind of counselling?

GD: Counselling, yes with the rehabilitation organisation. There were women social workers who talked to them. I don’t think it helped them. Because they were all malnourished, had horrible deficiency diseases…and they all had venereal diseases of one kind or another. It was pretty dreadful. The country had very little resources, medicines and facilities to deal with this problem. And the limited resources were kept for the war veterans, etc. There was not much left for the women. We had to bring our own stuff in.

B: Where did you get your supplies? Was it enough?

GD: From England. I was told to bring my own supply. I also took two sets of instruments and the antibiotics.

B: Have you used only these two sets of instruments for six months to terminate pregnancy?

GD: Yes. The instruments in the local hospitals were destroyed and there wasn’t much. And medicinal stuff was only for the wounded men.

B: Was it medically safe?

GD: Yes. It was lot less dangerous than going into term with all those diseases, particularly the younger ones.

B: So you were involved in both the abortion programme and the adoption?

GD: Yes. But with regard to the adoption programme, only in handing the babies over to the ISS. Any little ones, even up to toddlers… That was all a bit much. But the numbers involved having abortion or newborn were huge. The compound where the women had been kept during the war must have been enormous. But they all had been disbanded by the time I got there.

B: What about outside of Dhaka city, in the areas where you had been? What kind of facilities were made available?

GD: Hospitals and the rehabilitation organisation…I can’t remember what it was called! The Bangladesh National Women’s Rehabilitation Organisation or something like that. That was operating in most of the large centres. And the numbers being done prior to me going there was negligible because no body wanted to do that. Most of the medical staff in the hospital thought it was illegal. However, I had a letter from the Secretary of the State, Rob Chowdhury authorising my work there. It mentioned that anything I wanted to do was perfectly legal and they will give me all assistance. I can’t find the letter now. It is probably somewhere…Lots of papers from Bangladesh…I thought it was important since I was never going to see anything like that ever again as long as I lived. So, I better keep those.

It was very hard, horrific at that time.

B: Did all the women generally agree to have abortion or give up their babies for adoption? Were any of them interested to keep the baby?

GD: Well…a few of them did…

B: Do you know what happened to them?

GD: I have no idea. ISS was there to get as many babies as they could. Because there were less and less babies available for adoption in America and Western Europe and they wanted to get as many babies as they could get.

B: International Social Services?

GD: Yes. It’s based in Washington DC. A major organisation involved for adoption.

B: What happened to the mothers?

GD: After abortion or delivery they stayed for a little while and then went off to the accommodation provided by the Relief and Rehabilitation Centre. They could stay there for as long as they liked. And then the women went into training programmes. I saw a few of them — making clothes on a promotional basis. In Dhaka, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Noakhali.

* * *

“My sincere thanks to Dr. Davis for sharing his account. Before I left, we had an extensive discussion about his revisiting Bangladesh. Our discussion naturally led to future possibilities of a war-crimes tribunal. Geoff held my hand tightly and placed it on his chest. He had tears in his eyes. He said he’d do anything in his power to help Bangladesh in its effort to seek justice. As a preliminary step, I genuinely hope that this interview will inspire interested groups to organise for an official documentation of his story.”

“I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Roger Kilham who located Dr. Davis. Sincere thanks to Dr. Hameeda Hossain for her comments on the draft.” — Dr. Bina D’Costa


Bina D’Costa has worked on the nexus between development, human rights and security in South Asia. She has a PhD in International Relations from the ANU, an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Notre Dame, US and an MA in International Relations from Dhaka University.

35 Responses to “1971: Rape and its consequences”

  1. Clarence Fernandez

    Pakistan is run by the military whose ambitions of jihad and religious bigotry and hatred for Hindus go beyond any chance for peace. No surprise they conducted a brazen campaign of genocide against the Hindu minority and sheltered their criminals and colloborators. All decent Pakistanis should stand up against their war-mongering military and policies that bring no good to their citizens.

  2. Kuldip Singh

    According to Bangladeshi freedom fighters, the Pakistani army raped over 200,000 women during the war. Many of them migrated to India to give birth, while many committed suicide after being rejected by their families.

    Aleya Begum often breaks down when she tells the story of how she was kidnapped at the age of 13 along with her sister Laily. She was repeatedly gang raped for seven months by the Khans, as the Pakistani Army was called
    “The Khans tied our hands, burned our faces and bodies with cigarettes. There were thousands of women like me. They gang raped us many times a day. My body was swollen, I could barely move. They still did not leave us alone. They never fed us rice, just gave us dry bread once a day and sometimes a few vegetables. Even the Biharis, who supported the Pakistani army, tortured us. We tried to escape but always failed. When the girls were of little use they killed them.”

    Brave girls are ‘bad girls’

    Begum was also shot but she was rescued by the freedom fighters, known as Muktiyudhas. She returned home five months pregnant. But the baby died after birth. “I was branded as a bad girl. They called us names. I could not stand the humiliation and insults of the villagers. I moved to Dhaka. I worked there as a maid and did odd jobs.”

    When Begum got married she did not share her story with her husband. Even now, she is afraid people will make fun of her past. She says her husband abused her and threw her out of the house when he found out about her past. Then, she says, “my daughter fought with him and he finally relented. He asked me never to discuss this with anyone.” She is angry that the government has done nothing for the Birangona’s rehabilitation. “We did not get any compensation. There is too much pain in my heart. What is the value of my life? What did I get out of this life? People always look down upon us. So why bother telling anyone?”

    A forgotten story

    Her sister Laily Begum was pregnant when the Pakistani Army kidnapped her. She lost the baby in captivity and later fought with the freedom fighters. But she says her contribution still remains unacknowledged.
    “We lost everything, our reputation, children, husbands, homes, we did not want them to get away with it. There was hatred in our hearts, we were determined to kill the Khans and save the country. We fought with the Himayat Bahini. But nobody remembers us. Where is our name in history? Which list? Nobody wants to thank us. Instead we got humiliation, insults, hatred, and ostracism.”

    Aleya Begum’s 15-year-old daughter Asma Akter Eka says society may be ashamed but she is very proud of her mother and aunt. She has composed a song about how no one sees the pain in the heart of the daughter of a Birangona. Very few women have come forward with their stories. If anything, the Birangonas have only received sympathy and pity. But they want society to recognize them as war veterans and honor them like war heroes.

    Author: Bijoyeta Das

  3. Kuldip Singh

    we Indian salute to Dr Geoffrey for helping our neghbours and my heartly thanks to Dr Bina D’Costa for publishing this interview to bring it in information to those who are unaware about it.
    our honour is with those women who have survived it that horrible time , by the bless of Goddess Durga the day will come…….. when we will crush a followers of that cruel mentality.

  4. Kuldip Singh

    The theory behind a cruelty of Pakistani soldiers is very simple :

    They had orders from Tikka Khan to the effect that a good Muslim will fight anybody except his father. So what they had to do was to impregnate as many Bengali women as they could.

    to kill & rape innocents capture in war was a religious responsibility & authority for them !!

  5. Ali Abbasi

    I’m a 27 year old Pakistani living in Lahore, Pakistan. I wasn’t around to witness the war in 1971, but I have read plenty of detailed accounts of the war in many text books and articles. One of my close relatives was also a POW during this war. The fact that rape was utilized as a war strategy is nauseating and I certainly don’t doubt any of the facts presented in this article. It is indeed extremely well written and highlights the horrors faced by the victims of war in 1971. My only concern is that while growing up in South Asia, all of us are taught to possess hatred for each other based on the sufferings of our ancestors. I’m not saying that what they did was correct and neither am I saying that such heinous acts should be deemed legitimate in a war. All I’m trying to say is that – is it correct to continue to hate each other in spite of the fact that today’s youth hasn’t witnessed these horrors? I feel as if it has become an integral part of the classic South Asian upbringing to hate neighboring states. I have come across numerous Bangladeshis who are extremely kind and friendly with Pakistanis in foreign nations, and that kindness and friendship has been reciprocated by Pakistanis as well. If we can do that in western societies, why can’t we integrate these values into our South Asian societies? Yes, there are many Pakistanis who think less of Pakistanis who are willing to extend an olive branch to both Indians and Bangladeshis, and I’m sure that the exact same thought frame exists in Indian and Bangladeshi societies about Pakistan. The comments under this article stand witness to this. My concern still stands in the way of this hatred – why should this generation continue to harbor such antagonism for each other in spite of the fact that we weren’t even born when our nations were at war? I will not hate you because your ancestors wanted an independent nation for themselves in 1971, and similarly I hope that Bangladeshis don’t hate me for what my ancestors did during the war. Decades of hatred have benefited neither one of us, yet we continue to do so. Let’s put an end to this. Let’s put this brain-washing attitude of the politicians aside and realize that our strength lies in what we share – culture, values, language, and religion (for those who are Muslims). I request the young Bangladeshi readers to view this article as a historical account of the war and not derive hatred for Pakistanis of today’s generation. After all, we can only be considered as truly educated if we question the ills of our society and works toward a better, promising future. I’m sorry if my words have offended anyone, but with this post, I only want to share the fact that friendship is possible and it’s high time we bury the hatchet.

    • Ananya

      first of all, Ali Abbasi, thanks for the courage with which you did not deny the facts of 1971….it takes a lot of guts and good will to accept the truth being on the wrong side of the barbed wire….salute to u for that…but a people (south asian or european or whoever) cannot or rather should not forget such deep wounds and in such astronomical proportions just like that….your concern is that south asians are taught to breed hatred, but in this case, in case of Bangladeshis, we are in a perpetual state of identity crisis between our Bengaliness and our past association with West Pakistan on the basis of religion….on the contrary, Bangladesh suffers to some extent, from historical amnesia…..and hence it is imperative for Bangladeshis and if possible the politically conscious and free thinkers of Pakistan to unitedly condemn the atrocities of 1971, so we remember and bring justice to those who died and were violently raped en masse….. this is a simple call of humanity…. only humanity and condemnation of the acts of 1971 by Pak Army, can u seek friendship….you see, human beings are not born to hate….we are all made to connect to each other….why, even in Bangladesh, there is ample friendship towards Pakistanis in general for whatever reasons…. nobody is trying to polarise that and demonise Pakistanis en masse here…. BUT if u wash off ur hands from any responsibility that you have as as a Citizen of Pakistan saying that it was Ayyub Khan and Tikka Khan;s regime that administered genocide and mass rape, you are inadvertently and quite conveniently being one with the State of Pakistan in its atrocities and that in itself is a failure of humanity….If you want Bangladeshis to not hate you for the crimes of your ancestors you must actively condemn that past actions of your state as a concerned citizen instead of fearing that Bangladeshis are being learnt to hate general Pakistanis, for that is not the case at all…. you see, the state of Pakistan is still in denial of this Genocide …..we cannot insult the blood of our INNOCENT ANCESTORS given at the hands of your CORRUPT ANCESTORS by forgetting what happened in 1971, can we? There must be some closure, isn’t it? Imagine this was the reverse, wouldn’t you have demanded closure for the lives of your innocent ancestors even though it was not you yourself who faced such violence? Have you wondered why European states are friendly with each other? They also have histories of bloody wars in the past…. it is because, closures had been drawn and root causes for the wars and possible reason for re-flaring of conflicts had been dealt with movements and treaties such as the French Revolution and the Treaty of Westphalia…..the west is not friendly just by forgetting what happened…. despite minimal denials and accusations they have come to an agreement on key issues and established their society on key pillars such as Liberty, Equality and Fraternity….. how can you expect that level of maturity when in South Asia, religion has been the cause of much chaos, division and violence? Even the partition of 1947 was based on that and its impractical consequences had to be dealt with at the cost of innocent lives in 1971…. and in border tensions of the present times……don’t worry, the average Bangladeshi does not think you are the culprit as an individual…..like the author here mentioned correctly, it is an attempt to condemn the process by which such violence was committed on Bengalis in 1971 not to demonise the people of Pakistan as a whole….and if u r a concerned citizen of Pakistan you must never expect Bangladeshis to forget and simply forgive Pakistan for that…. there must be some closures! reconciliation cannot happen without justice…..and once again, do not unnecessarily get concerned…. people are much more educated these days than the past….I as a present generation Bangladeshi, can appreciate good music of Pakistan from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Abida Parveen to all the episodes of Coke Studio Pakistan….but do not ask us to forget 1971…and forgive without closure, please…. this is an earnest request of humanity from a citizen of one state to a citizen of another state….. Amen!

    • Rahat Jobayar

      Abbasi vai, Thanks for writing and sharing your views with us. We the young generation in Bangladesh also feel to make the history set right. I had been in Pakistan for a month, I have met with people who passed those days of war and some of the Army officers who were part of “COUNTER INSURGENCY OP” in Bangladesh in Clifton Cantonment, Karachi. I felt sorry for the state once a financial and military power in South Asia. I do realize that a historical rivalry set by our predecessors should not impede the way for friendship in the decades to come. But, to extend a hand of friendship from Bangladesh, an ocean of guilt stands between.

      My fellow contryman Ananya has correctly brought some points. I shall echo them, but straightly. First of all, past belligerent nations can be friends if there are no case of War Crimes. Just imagine where we stand for that.

      There was a war, which gave birth of Bangladesh. An war is fought between Armed forces, the civilians are not targeted. Please look into the history, the amount of civilian casualty clearly shows that the-then East Pakistan civilians had been purposefully targeted. Do you know about Operation Searchlight? It was a Preemptive military operation carried out at the middle of night on unarmed civilians. Students of my age, your age were shot at their hostels and thrown into mass graves. You want me to simply forget that and say hi five?

      You have already expressed your nauseating feelings over this article’s content. Abuse of women have been used as an weapon of war in 1971. Let me be specific, that is severe war crime and your military leaders got away with it. Feels injustice, right?

      Even last year while in Bangladesh we were trying one of the collaborators of such crime, your leaders at the parliament showed the audacity of commenting and denouncing our act. Your media has awarded that guy as Hero of Pakistan. Let alone regretting for what your political and military leaders did in 1971, your present leaders are still promoting it and supporting it. In fact, you haven’t still learnt to respect our sovereignty.

      Pakistan want to shake hand with Bangladesh, fine. We want too. But at first wash your hands of the blood of 3 million civilians and the curse of raping all these woman. How you can do it? Deport those military commanders or try them under any international war crimes tribunal. As in quran it is told, no crime will go unpunished. Make it happen, Bangladesh is ready to extend her friendship.

      If present generation of Bangladesh can rise together to ask for righting some historical wrongdoings, then Pakistani youth can too. We are and always be with you. I have friends in Pakistan, I like them to invite to Bangladesh but I can’t. Its your side who must start acting.

  6. KB

    India should have handed over the war criminals to Bangladesh and should have set up the war crime tribunal just after the war and then after the verdict only let off the remaining POWs. Justice can not be served till those in Bangladesh & Pakistan who commited crimes in 71 are brought to book even if they are Mukti Bahani members

  7. Soham Saha

    The rape of women in 1971 by the Pakistani Military was not simply a consequence of war. It was systematic, and served a purpose. That is why, the bringing of war criminals to justice in Bangladesh should not stop after we have brought the Rajakars to justice. We should demand Pakistan to return their ‘brave’ soldiers to face trial. Then, and only then can we begin to talk about forgiveness.

  8. Sudipto Roy

    Truly today the verdict of Jamaat-e-Islami party leader Abdul Quader Mollah being hanged is truely welcome. Salute all the women and mothers of Bangaldesh and the men who stood by them !

  9. Mahfuzer

    My Salute to all of those Mothers and Sisters and feel proud for Bina D’Costa and Dr. Davis. It is the asset of Bangladesh War. We need it in proper documentation. Thanks.

  10. Dr. Khalid Hasan

    Yes, I can recall those days. The barbaric acts of Pakistani solders. I was a school student then. Dr. Davis had exactly narrated the truth. We should not forgive and forget Pakistani army and leaders those involved with this act (physically and psychologically at that time and those still supports that). No human being can forget that. We and our children and grandchildren must know the truth. Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Bina (great job done and please continue to do so. We are ever grateful to Dr. Davis).

    Dr. Bina – can you think about communicating the truth to all Bangladeshi’s, especially to the political leaders (those still working with the Razakars (the collaborators of Pakistani Army)? We also need to share this truth to the Bangladeshi diaspora (they are the ambassadors of Bangladesh in abroad).

    I agree with Afsan bhai that “Bina’s contribution is enormous and with the death of Dr. Davis invaluable. I hope the interview is translated into Bengali and gains wider access.

    • Syed Tayyab Warsi

      Mr Khalid i m not agree with all of this,
      We love Bangladesh as We love pakistan. At that time indian media was much stronger than Pakistan n BBC were also known as biased Media,
      And its all were part of media war, British n america were supporter of india, So i m Looking for facts what actually happened there?????
      Would you like to explain your point of view???
      What are feeling of bangalies about pakistan now a days ????
      How we can find truth ???
      kindly explain common bangali’s view as Representative of Nation ?

      • Nashid Sharmin

        Mr Syed, it’s shocking that still you don’t believe the truths & blame Indian media. Blaming the Indian media was the “cover” for your Pakistani leaders at that time. For God’s sake, don’t believe them. The truth is narrated above in the articles. Almost all of us have heard the same types of incidents or even worse incidents from our parents and family members who have gone through the war-time. You want us not to believe what our parents said? Those are not different words than what is narrated in the above article. So try to accept the “Truth”, not the “Fake blames” by your leaders. & to be honest, it’s better not to ask for the feelings of Bangladeshis about Pakistan. You will be really shocked to know the fact. As we still posses that “hatred” in our hearts for what Pakistan army did to our people during 1971. As long as Pakistan don’t apologize officially to Bangladesh for 1971, we will never forgive them. Even, if they apologize, we cannot forget what they did with us.

      • N Khan

        Dear Mr. Syed,

        If you doubt that Pakistan used rape as a weapon of war, you have either not been getting your war stories from credible sources or been given censored versions. Maybe you should explore which side of the war your sources were on.

        My family was very active in fighting for Bangladesh and I know from first hand accounts that the above narration is only a glimpse of what happened.

        Please do let me know if you would like to hear of the horror stories from witnesses of these rape camps. War atrocities cannot be forgiven and as you can now they, they cannot be forgotten either – not for long anyway.

  11. Mina

    We all salute those mothers and sisters and appreciate their silent contribution. You were the real fighters and brought independence in our country Bangladesh. Thank you. We are proud of you.

  12. Samaritan

    Pakistan army has gotten away with ‘rape and murder’ since its inception commencing with the Kashmir debacle. Is it any wonder then that, after Bangladesh, it now continues to do so with impunity in Afghanistan also? What is shocking is its audacity to operate under our misplaced illusion and guise as our coalition partners in the forefront of our futile struggles against terrorism. Pakistan is the epicenter of all evil. Its army and ISI are the veritable arms of terrorism. Armed with prescience of Pakistani modus operandi, Afghanistan needs to be prepared to prevent Bangladesh’s experience at the hands of opportunistic and predatory Pakistan. The perpetrators of Bangladesh disaster should be brought to justice for crimes against humanity. Pakistan and the coterie of barbarians cannot be fit enough to be our coalition partners to fight for a noble cause against terrorism. This is just beginning to dawn upon us after losing so many of our soldiers at the behest of macabre double game expertly played by Pakistan.

  13. anon@anonanon.anon

    It is shocking that such a genocide was given nuclear cover during the last days of the war.

    So much for bravery!

  14. Muhammad Noman

    Dear Writer,
    I am Muhammad Noman, General Secretary of Jubo League Australia. I was instructed by DR. Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister to contact his family to extend an invitation as Bangladesh is honouring those who helped Bangladesh in 1971.

    Please send me some contact number or address to noman_bd@yahoo.com or call +61404340404.

    Muhamamd Noman

  15. Dibos

    Hat off to those mothers and sisters as well as selfless services of Late Dr. Davis.

    Well done & keep up Bina.

  16. Khandaker Farzana Rahman

    Hats off to those mothers who brought an independent BANGLADESH an the cost of their everything.I feel proud and blessed being a child of them!!

  17. Ashique Khan

    I always suspected that the number of atrocities committed against our women in 1971 has not been reported properly.

    6 months => 26 weeks X 6 weekdays X 100 abortions per day = 15,600 abortions. This shows only the approximation of work by only one doctor!

    I believe in Allah. I know how He hunts down oppressors. I pray to Allah to ensure that the oppressors suffer appropriately.

    Meanwhile, I want the oppressors to be punished for their crimes in this life. I want the criminals (from both the east and the west) to be punished. It is never too late to do the right thing. I am sure once the tribunals start collecting evidences about the atrocities, everyone related will raise their voice and lend their hands, just as Dr. Davis did.

    Tears are not enough for the crimes committed against our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. People are still being tried for crimes in 1945. 1971 episode occurred in not so distant past.

  18. afsan chowdhury

    The positive response to Bina’s interview is so heartening that I felt compelled to write. The material had landed in my inbox several years ago and Bina had conducted the interview in 2002 so it was known to some for long but not publicly known. That will be over now hopefully. I am glad I sent it to bdnews24.com without asking Bina but I felt this did belong to the people of Bangladesh and she would understand.

    The significance of this interview is astounding because its says in graphic details what many thought were made up stuff. It is a critical part of the 1971 narrative and makes it complete. What happened could only be told by Dr Davis and he has said it all. He will also be believed because he is a Westerner and not part of the victimised population. Whether you like it or not, that’s important.

    While doing our video on “women and 1971” we talked to Maleka Khan who talked of the emotional impact of working with such victims and how these women reacted to becoming mothers. That is another significant interview.

    Bina’s contribution is enormous and with the death of Dr. Davis invaluable.

    I hope the interview is translated into Bengali and gains wider access.

    • Bina D'Costa

      Oh Afsan Bhai, apni pathalen? Then no problem 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing it with others.
      warm wishes, Bina

  19. Sumaiya

    Thank you all who took the initiative to record this issue and publishing it. I am a 28-yr-old woman who spent a big part of my life (since I was three) abroad. Although, my family was in Bangladesh during the war, all these minute details were never shared. I only heard those from a few of my friends who I have made over the past few years. I am ashamed to say, even I thought the numbers of rape were slightly exaggerated. But this really puts a very different spin on things. We should document stories before all this information is lost. And educate our people of the increased vulnerabilities of women in wars and other disasters. And of course, bring justice to the women of ’71.

  20. Lincoln

    Thanks for your effort Dr Geoffrey and Dr Bina. I feel so sad for those women and so enraged at the pakistan army!

  21. Saleh-Rahim Ahmed

    Definitely a wonderful piece with supporting documents that could be placed and/or accepted in international war crimes tribunals! The legal probe and/or prosecutors’ team may find lots of references to go in depth of their case and find lot more genuine materials to make the case a credible one! Thanks Dr. Bina D’ Costa — you did your part! My salute!!

  22. Suad Abdullah

    Thanks Bina D’ Costa and Dr. Davis for the interview and for sharing such a moving story. It is so important for those generations to know about ‘year 1971’ especially who were born after liberation and completely unaware of such incidents and consequences.

  23. Rosaline Costa

    The real fighters during the Liberation War were the women and mothers and they deserve to be recognised for their brevity. I salute them and appreciate their silent contribution.

  24. NIPU

    Thank you so much to Dr. Davis and Bina D’Costa for revealing such heart wrenching fats. Those tortured women are our pride.

  25. Swapan Barman

    We salute all those mothers and sisters who went through inhuman sufferings for the independence of our motherland, we salute them! They are our pride!

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