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A Tale of Bibi Zohora

Published September 16th, 2012

Bibi Zohora, 19, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with a severely broken neck. Tortured by her in-laws for dowry, she had returned to her parental home in Nolua, Kabirhat, Noakhali and had a failed attempt to commit suicide by hanging herself from a mango tree. Her poor parents had somehow managed to take her to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for her treatment. But what treatment had been awaiting her? Bibi Zohora was now at the ICU of DMCH, lying amidst another 21 critical patients. But there were only three doctors who seemed rather interested in their private talk. Her parents were the only attendant there to look after their gasping daughter though nobody except the medical staff is allowed to enter any intensive care unit. However, the mother at a stage made out that her daughter was no more alive and started wailing. The doctors hurried to Bibi Zohora and pretended to do everything possible- thumping, pumping and what not. Sensing the presence of camera, one of the doctors gaped at the ECG monitor reading LOSS OF SIGNAL. He posed as if doing a grave job though the ECG monitor was not connected with the patient.

Bibi Zohora was a victim of dowry death who was driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husband and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women in South Asia. Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire; this is known as “bride burning”, and sometimes disguised as suicide or accident.

As per women rights organization’s statistics, from 01 January 2005 to 28 February 2011, 1257 women were killed, 348 were ill-treated and 243 committed suicide due to dowry related violence. Women in Bangladesh are still in a vulnerable situation in the society. To reduce violence against women, society should ensure gender equality, no economic gap between genders, social consciousness and proper implementation of law and order.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_1

Bibi Zohora with a severely broken neck lies unattended at the ICU of DMCH.

  • October 13th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/3.5 / 1/15 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_2

Her hands are tied to the railings and pipes snake into her trachea and left nostril.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_3

Bibi Zohora gasps for breath, her chest heaving.

  • October 9th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 38mm / f/4.5 / 1/20 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_4

Mother examines if her daughter is alive.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_5

Doctors pretend to do everything possible- thumping, pumping and what not.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_6

A doctor shines a torch into the eye of Zohora.

  • October 13th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 40mm / f/4.5 / 1/60 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_7

The doctor pose to be reading the ECG monitor with LOSS OF SIGNAL.

  • October 13th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 40mm / f/4.5 / 1/100 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_8

Zohora passes away.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_9

Mother wails, unheard.


A Tale of Bibi Zohora_10

With all the eyes and fingers, Zohora's mother-in-law defends their torture on her for dowry.

  • November 18th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/3.5 / 1/20 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_11

Mother sheds tears, holding the photograph of her daughter with her.

  • November 18th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/3.5 / 1/8 sec

A Tale of Bibi Zohora_12

A fallen log and a pile of dry leaves of the mango tree from where Zohora hanged herself are seen through a window.

  • November 18th, 2011
  • NIKON D90
  • 18mm / f/3.5 / 1/800 sec

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Valérie Tirard  about 4 years ago