Arifur Rahman is a 31 year old respected cartoonist from Bangladesh, known as Cartoonist Arif. He is the founder and director of tOOns Mag, and former ICORN resident in Drøbak. With close up experience of how women has to fight hard for human rights, for a long time, he has been occupied with women`s right to education, their health, happiness and safety.
In a historical perspective on women’s rights in Bangladesh Arifur Rahman says in an interview for the local newspaper in Drøbak, Amta.
“Of course, in India and Bangladesh, there have been significant improvements for women’s rights. 100 years ago, young girls married to young men were burned together with their husband when he died.”
The cartoon competition organized by Rahman and tOOns Mag received 1625 drawings by 567 cartoonists from 79 different countries. A selection is represented in the Women’s Rights exhibitions, which opens in Drøbak, Bangalore and Uttar Pradesh for the International Women’s Day 8 March 2016. The drawings in the exhibitions deal with women’s rights and limitations; the lack of education, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, violence, discrimination, legal protection and workload.
For Rahman, the background for organising the contest and exhibitions is largely personal: When Rahman’s mother was eleven years old, she was married off. She was only a child and knew nothing about marriage. Twelve years of age, she became pregnant, but could not give birth and the child died. Arifur was her first born, at the age of 13. Some years later, after giving birth to his sister, their father divorced her. Life became increasingly difficult.
“Divorce in Bangladesh is a shame for a woman. A good man would not marry a divorced woman, let alone take care of her children. My mother decided to move back to my grandmother and dedicated her life to us children. I wore the same shirt every day for two years, carefully washed and mended by my mother.
She was an uneducated woman, but I am proud of her. She had a great personality. Sometimes she said to me 'If I were educated, I could find a job and support you two.” I lost her in April 2012, she was only 40.
By arranging this cartoon contest and exhibition openings on the International Women's Day 2016, I pay my respect to my mother and support all women's rights.” Rahman says.
Conditions of Women's Rights worldwide
The exhibitions in Norway and India contain award winning and selected cartoons of the participants to the International Cartoon Competition on Women’s Rights.
Many of the cartoonist who contributed are concerned about abuse, child marriage and violence against women, others are interested in the hardship of women´s work and their struggle for human rights. The differences in the conditions of women’s rights around the world are sometimes visible in the themes of the cartoons: “Whereas Iranian cartoonists draws of abuse and men married to several wives, European and American cartoonists are often more humorous and satirical. Indonesian cartoons are largely about trafficking.” Says Rahman.
Women´s Rights - International Cartoon Contest & Exhibition is supported by: Avistegnernes Hus, Fritt Ord, Akershusmuseet, Indian Institute of Cartoonists
Exhibition openings three places in two countries at the same time:
March 8 in Avistegnernes Hus, Drøbak, Norway
March 5 in Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
March 6 in Sheroes Hangout, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
The exhibition is a travelling exhibition. Please contact Arifur Rahman or ICORN if you are interested in hosting the exhibition.
The Jury Members
The jury members of the tOOns MaG First International Cartoon Contest 2016 are:
Siri DokkenCartooonist, Norwey
Sabine Voigt Cartoonist, Germany
Saadet Demir Yalçın Cartoonist, Turkey
Nigar NazarCartoonist, Pakistan
Ahsan Habib Cartoonist, Bangladesh
Borislav Stankovic StaborCartoonist, Serbia
Jan-Erik Ander Cartoonist, Sweden
Matt Wuerker Cartoonist, USA
Arifur Rahman Cartoonist, Bangladesh/Norwey Organizer