A place where there is need for her kind of writing

Taslima talked to a reporter about life “at home in exile.”

India, Nasrin reiterates, articulating feelings she has expressed often, is “closest to home, to my bhasha, my culture. I relate to this society, feel I belong here”. It’s necessary to her very raison d’etre as a writer. “I am not a writer of romances. I am a socially committed writer; my writing is for freedom of expression, for women’s rights. I cannot live in a place where everything is ideal, where there is freedom of expression, human rights for all. I am a citizen of such a country (Sweden). I have to live near the oppressed, to see them up close, to meet them, a place where there is need for my kind of writing. I have chosen India for this reason – because I cannot go to Bangladesh.”

That’s Taslima. She’s a lion.

For all her conviction, however, it’s an isolating existence. “The fact that I tell the truth isolates me, but I know my message resonates with the oppressed, especially women. Only they don’t speak out in my support out of fear.”

Taslima however goes on speaking out.

Amazingly, her travails haven’t blunted her strident defence of women’s rights or moderated her words against Islamic fundamentalists. Last week, she was in the news for tweeting “FO” to the Muslim personal law board, which opposes the government’s move to repeal triple talaaq. Nasrin is unapologetic: “It’s laughable – that in a long standing democracy such as India, these ridiculous misogynists are being taken seriously. Institutions such as the Muslim law board are useless and exist only to oppress women. They speak of minority rights, but it is they who do not respect the rights of minorities – Muslim women. They should be told to FO,” she says.

However, she’s optimistic about the general conditions for women’s rights and against religious intolerance in South Asia. “I was the only one writing about these issues in the 1980s. But now we can talk about them openly, the media can criticise Islam debate religious law,” she says. Some of the credit for that goes to Nasrin herself.

Quite a lot of it.

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