Anowara: Testimony of Yet Another Rape Victim

September, 15 2011 Share

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An excerpt of Anowara's testimony with English voiceover


Full testimony of Anowara


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[Anowara is a pseudonym. She was raped in early June 2008 and came forward to tell the truth in August 2011]

Interviewer: What is your name, when did you go to Jordan, and how much money did it cost you to go to Jordan?  These three things, please tell me.

"Anowara": My name is "Anowara."  I went to Jordan in 2005.  After arriving in Jordan, people from the company pick you up from the airport.  When we get there, we have our passports in our hand.  Then, when the company puts us in the car, they take the pasGLHRsports away.  Separately, they take us each to our rooms.  Then, after awhile, they got the food ready and after everyone ate, they told us the following day, at 8, they'll take us to the office.  After taking us to the office, everyone is given work at whichever machine, whoever can do each machine, they had to work at that machine.  So, it goes on like this, and slowly...


I: Okay, well, to go to Jordan, when you were coming to Jordan, how much money, what was the cost of going to Jordan?

A: Going to Jordan cost about Tk. 100,000 [about US $1350].


I: How did you get that money?

A: Some I got a loan from a bank, some they put a mortgage on our plot of land, some my brother gave.


I: How much total?

A: About Tk. 100,000.


I: Okay.  How old are you, well, actually, when you went, what was your age then?

A:  Now, at present, I'm 31.


I:  Okay, that's fine, present age is fine.  Now, when you were returning from Jordan, who gave you the cost of the ticket, please tell me that.

A: Faruk sir.


I:  But how?  Please tell the story.

A: Faruk sir abused me, raped me.  After he did this, I wanted to tell the company.  But he didn't let me tell, he didn't let me report it.  He said if you report it, I'll send you back to Bangladesh, I'll send you to jail here.  I was so scared, I didn't say anything.  I was sick then anyway.  He took me two days.  One day he took me to Amman to get my passport okayed.  I didn't know, he said he was taking me to the doctor, but he took me the passport office, so I asked him, why did you bring me here, this isn't the medical.  He said, no we need to come here first, I'll take you to the medical after.  Then I didn't say anything else, he brought me home.  He said your examination will be there.  Another day he took me to Ramtha.  After taking me, for the passport...I don't understand any Arabic, he had me sit in the office, and he completed it.  After completing it, he took me home.  He did this for two weeks, after two weeks, they took me to the office.  But they didn't let me go up to the office, I mean, the boss's office, where they handle the money.  They took me there, to get my signature.  They said, after you sign, we'll give you money.  I said, what money?  They told me, they're sending you back to Bangladesh.  I said, why should I go to Bangladesh?  They said, you're very seriously ill.  I said, no, no, I won't go.  They scared me with that, then suddenly, they took me to the airport.  When they took me to the airport, I understood, they're really going to send me.  They didn't give me any money at all, out of nowhere, they just took me to the airport, saying we were going to the doctor.  Talking about the doctor, they just took me to the airport. 


I: In the Classic factory, which factory did you work in and what kind of work did you do?

A: First I went to 2, I did about one and a half years there.  Then they started making trouble, they started agitating [hard to translate this word, along the lines of uprising, struggling, making movement].  They don't give us time off, they work us long hours, don't pay us right, because of this, they did an uprising, after doing the uprising, they put all the Bengalis in [Classic] 3 and kept the Sri Lankans in [Classic] 2, they divided us.  Because of the trouble, I worked three years in [Classic] 3.  In 2, I mostly did bras, in 3, they gave me bras and denim too, jeans.


I: Why did you change factories?

A: After all the trouble, they changed it, they separated the Bengalis and the Sri Lankans.  They said, Bengalis don't do any work, so that's why.  They changed to see if Bengalis do work or if the Sri Lankans work.  They used to get it done somehow together, the shipment would go out, but the money was never right.  Then, after separating us, they see the Sri Lankans can't send a shipment.  After seeing this, the boss decided to mix us back together.  He called us all together and said, what happened happened.  You're all my workers, they're all my workers.  All are my children.  So he put us all back together, and gave some Bengali and some Sri Lankan back to each [factory].


I: The clothing you made, what brand were they and what kind were they, can you explain?

A: You know the buyer, Champions, that buyer's bras and panties, also denim.  But I don't know the buyer for the denim.  The bra and panty we did, that was Champion buyer. 


I:  What did you do?

A: 7:30


I: In a day, what was your target, in how many hours?

A: In an hour, it was 120 pieces.  From 7:30 in the morning until 4, we had general duty.  Then, until 11 at night it would be running, until 12, even like this they worked us.


I: Was it like this every day or just sometimes?

A: At the beginning, everyday was like this.  But after the uprising, when we went to [Classic] 3, after we learned everything, were more experienced, then slowly they lessened our duties.


I: But if you couldn't finish...

A: If you couldn't do it -


I: Wait, let me finish, so if you couldn't do the work, if they couldn't take the shipment, what would they do to you?

A: They would yell at us, curse at us, cut our pay, one hour, one and a half hour.


I: Why?

A: Because the target wouldn't get filled up, so they'd cut our pay.


I: But lots of times, many people, maybe because of health reasons, they can't finish it - wouldn't the owner understand this?

A: The owner doesn't try to understand, the owner isn't there anyway, that's..the managers, the boss, they look at that, the owner doesn't always come, he knows he has a production manager, he puts the target out - the owner doesn't come on the line to see, who's working like what, who's sick, things like that. 


I: How many days a week would they cut your pay, all six days, seven days?

A: Six, seven days.  The days the orders don't get filled, that day we get cut.


I: How many days a week are like that? 

A:  Two days, three days, sometimes just one day. 


I: And they don't pay you anything when they cut your pay like this?

A: No.


I: Totally free?

A: Totally free.  And when it got really hard, then they'd give us overtime for a day or two, whatever they felt like.


I: So what does that mean, how many hours did you work total, from the morning on?

A: Fourteen hours, sixteen hours.


I: Tell me, from the morning until night, how many hours would you be working?  Tell me your schedule.

A: From morning until night.  During then, they'd give us tea time, they'd give us lunch time.  Tea time is 15 minutes, lunch times is 30 minutes.


I: How many times would they give you tea time?

A: In the morning, and again at 5.


I:  The place where you lived, what was the environment like that, what were the conditions?

A: It was okay, acceptable, but not great.


I: How many people were in one room?

A: In a big room, ten people, in a small room, 8 people.


I: And how was the environment, what was it like, was it clean or...?

A: Mostly, it was clean.  The water was short sometimes, then they'd bring it with a truck, we had both hot and cold.


I: Was the factory open on Fridays?  I understand normal days, you're working 14 hours, but your off day, Fridays, was it open even then?

A: At first, they kept it open.  After we made the trouble, then they didn't keep it open anymore.  Sometimes, if they had a shipment, then they'd tell us in advance.


I: In a week, how many days would they keep it open?

A: Two days open, two days closed.


I: Okay.  The strike that happened, when did it start and when did it end?

A: I don't remember the date...


I: No, I mean, how long did it go on?

A: One, one and a half months, the trouble went on, they didn't pay us for one month.


[Interviewer takes a phone call]


I: What kind of time off did you have each week?  Did you have any?

A: We had, we had two days off, the rest of the days we were open.


I: Sometimes, were there times when they made you work on days off?

A: Yes.


I: Please tell us about that.  You had days off, but still had to work?

A: We had off, but they'd tell us, we have a shipment, come in and work, we'll let you off at 4 o clock.  They wouldn't keep us like this often, but sometimes they did, to finish the shipment.


I: In a month, how many Fridays would you work?

A: In a month, out of four weeks, we'd work two Fridays, if there was work that had to be done.


I: If there was work?

A: Yes.


I: Okay.  Faruk, that man, the incident that happened, how did it happen, how did he do it, the whole incident...tell them to be quiet please!...Faruk, you know him..

A: Yes.


I: This man, Faruk, when did he do this incident, how did he do it...[side conversations, yelling at kids to be quiet] ...okay, go ahead, tell me.

A: After lunch, around 2 or 2:30, this incident...


I: What day was it..

A: Three...


I: Let me finish, what day was it, how it happened, when, please tell me the story.

A: I don't remember the day.  The day...I don't remember.  Around 2 o clock, he went.  His "mother" [Faruk usually addressed the dorm super as "mother," although she is not his real mother.] is there, the guy they keep to watch everything, I mean, his "mother", he came and called her.  He called her, he knocked and said, is there a sick girl here?  What room?  Is the gate open?  So he saw, the gate's open, they're taking care of me, so his "mother" said, yeah, she's lying down, she's sleeping.  So he said, okay, you stay here, I'll go and see.  So she stood by the gate, and he comes inside.  After he comes inside, he put his hand and saw I have a fever.  Then, he closed the gate.  After closing the gate, I said, why'd you close the gate, huh bhai (informal greeting)?  Ever since the mechanics said bhai, I don't call him boss, I just call him bhai too.  Then, he says, oh just because.  Then, he comes over, and as he's talking, he puts his hand on me, like this.  I said, what are you doing?  Then we started struggling, fifteen, twenty minutes, it went on like this.  Then I started crying, and he pushed his hand over my mouth, he said, if you try to do anything now, I'll kill you right here. 


I: Faruk, this guy, who is he really, that he went over there?  Who is Faruk?

A: Faruk went there as a worker, he went in the mechanic's post.  When he went in the mechanic's post, when the Bengalis, Sri Lankans, we didn't understand much...he had some education, he was very tall, handsome, so, everyone thought..well, we had a boss, called Rafiq sir, they kept him in [Classic] 2, he knew the Sri Lankan language, he was apparently in Dubai for a long time, he was in Jordan too a time before apparently, he knew a lot of there wasn't anyone Sri Lankan in charge in [Classic] 2, so they kept Rafiq sir over there, and since [Classic] 3 needed a boss, they made [Faruk] the boss.


I: So please tell me more about the incident.  When he raped you...

A: Yes.


I: I mean, well, how long was he there...

A: From 20 to 25 minutes..


Interviewer 2: Like how he took her clothes off, how he approached

Interviewer 1: Right, tell us more of this subject please, what did he say, what did he do?

I2: [can't make out]

I1: Yes, yes, she already told some of this...please go on.  What happened?

A:  He...


I:  You being sick, he took advantage of this situation right? 

A: Yeah...


I: Okay, please, go ahead.

A: When I got sick, he came to see if I was sick, when he came to see, then slowly, then he put his hands on me, he struggled with me, after all the struggling, I was crying, I was crying a lot, but even after all the crying, he wouldn't listen, so I told him, if you do this, I'll tell the company.  He said I'll send you back, after saying a lot of things to scare me...he violated me.


I: Did he take your clothes off?

A: Yes, he opened my clothes, he opened his pants. 


I:  He did it himself?

A: Yes, he did it. 


I: Then what did you do?

A: I cried and pleaded, tried to get up again and again, but he wrestled with me, told me a lot of things to scare me, I shouted, he grabbed my throat, and pushed his hand over my mouth.


I:  For how long did he rape you?

A: Twenty, twenty five minutes he struggled with me, then, he did it.


I: When he raped you, he had taken your clothes off?

A:  He didn't take the clothes off, he just, my salwar (pants)...


I: Did he have any marks anywhere you can remember?

A: No, well, he didn't take his shirt off, he came wearing this shirt, he didn't open his shirt, he just opened his pants.


I: And when he opened his pants, did you see anything, any marks or scars...?

A: I didn't look so closely, I was just struggling, I didn't look so closely.


I: When he raped you, did he use a condom?

A: No, he didn't use a condom.  He didn't use anything.


I: After the rape, you had a bathroom nearby?  After the rape what did he do?

A:  There is a bathroom close..he went to the toilet, washed his face and hands...


I: Then?

A:  Then he came back.


I:  Okay.  Then what did you do?

A:  What am I supposed to do?  I washed myself, what could I do?


I:  Okay.  There, was there just that room?  Weren't there other people in other rooms?

A: No, I was in the sick room.


I:  What time was it then?

A: Two to two-thirty.


I:  Okay.  Do you remember what date it was?

A:  No.


I:  How did he..after he raped you, when you came back, what did he say to you?  What kind of things did he say to scare you?

A:  He said, if you try to tell the company, I'll send you to jail here.  I said, even if you send me to jail, I'm telling the company.  You did this...pushing-pulling with me, even if you send me to Bangladesh, my husband will leave me now, if he finds this out.  It's better that I die.  I said all this, he put his hand up to hit me, threatened me more.  I said, I'm going to tell the company.  He went to go to the office, but his "mom" didn't let me go.  She called on the phone and said, "Anowara" is fighting like this, let them know, to the company.  So his "mom" didn't let me go outside the gate, she phoned and let them know.  So I guess between them somehow, they came up with the idea, with Faruk's own money, they got me ticket.


I: After being raped, how long after did they send you back?

A: Around 20 to 22 days


I: So for 20 to 22 days you were in the house?

A: Yes.


I: They didn't let you go anywhere?

A: I went to the store, there's a store at the house, you can food and things, like a supermarket


I:  But they didn't let you go to the factory?

A: No, they didn't let me go to the factory.


I: Okay.  After raping you, how many days were you in your room, why did they keep you from doing any work?

A: When I said I was going to tell the company, because of this they didn't let me go to the company.  They said just stay in your room, you're sick.  You'll be paid for this month.  You'll get your pay...


I: How did they send you back, please tell us.

A: He told me, the doctor...


I: Who's he?  Please use his name.

A: Faruk sir told me, let's go.  I asked him, go where?  He said, you're going to the office.  They'll give you your salary, you have to give your signature.  You know, your've been home sick right, so your salary is here, you have to go pick it up.  So, I gave my signature, I went and gave my signature.  But they didn't give me any money, I was like, what's going on, they didn't give the salary money...he says, they're saying they won't give you your salary, your pay didn't pass.  Your application didn't get filed.  I said, why didn't it get filed, I gave the application, why didn't you file it?  It didn't pass, that's all he said.  When he brought me to the airport, this scheme is you and Anil's, sending me back.  He said, what scheme?  You're not well.  He said bad things about me.  You're not a good girl, you're a bad type of girl, we can't keep you in the factory.  I said, you're the one who made me bad, you're the one who raped me, who abused me, took everything from me.  What belongs to my husband only, you took that.  Now I'm going to Bangladesh, if my husband finds this out, my husband will leave me, he'll give me a divorce. 


I: How did you know he gave the money...

A: He took my signature...


I: No, I mean, it cost you to come right

A: Yes


I: The money to go back, how do you know who exactly gave it?

A: I don't know exactly who gave it, if Faruk or Anil gave it, I don't know.  But I know they took my signature, and when I came to the airport, I found out Faruk gave it.  The owner doesn't know this.  Then I made some calls, I phoned some of the workers, but nobody knew anything.  When I came to the airport, I called, I said this is what's going on, they brought me to the airport.  They didn't know anything.  They were like, what?  And I said, yeah, they're sending me back.  They said, what are your clothes and things?  I said, clothes and things, I don't know.  They said, we'll pack it up for you, his "mother" is here, we'll pack it up and put in a car later, they didn't give anything with me.  Half of the clothes and things are just lying there, some of it they just packed up somehow and brought it to me.

I:  So, your salary, your social security, did they give you any of this?

A:  Now, if the company gave me anything, I don't know, but Faruk sir took my signature saying they'll give me everything...


I:  Give you what?

A:  All the money, he'll give me all of it, but they didn't give me anything.


I: So did Faruk do this to any other girls?

A:  He does, but a lot of girls don't have the guts to say anything, he threatens to send them back or put them in jail.


I:  Do you know anything about any other rapes?

A:  Yes, Anil did it to two other girls.  One girl, it happened to her, but she...right here in Jordan...they cleared it up here, how I don't know...


I:  What does cleared mean?  Please explain.

A:  One girl, she got pregnant...


I:  Please say it again.

A:  Pregnant...I mean, she had a child...when she came, he took her to the hospital and did something, an abortion, we don't know what he did.  Then she got sick, they did some treatment, and sent her back to Sri Lanka.  Then he was fine for awhile.  Then he...out of nowhere, a girl, she got pregnant.  They sent her back just like that, with child.  Her husband, he used to work here.  Even with her husband there, [Anil] forcefully made love with her, going to her house.  She said, he seduced me.  He didn't seduce her, he forcefully did his business, and after going to the house, he would call them to the office to do his business, he had a personal office, in there.


I: Who called them?

A:  Anil.


I:  He did it in the office?

A:  He would take them in the office and rape them. 


I:  How many people did he rape like this?

A:  A lot of people, but these are the main two that came to light, the most serious, so they sent them away.  I think they kept them 15 or 20 days, until they recovered, then they sent them back.  Another girl, who this happened to, they sent her back to her country pregnant, she went back and filed a case.  After doing the case, she came to Jordan monthly to attend the court hearings. 


I:  Okay.  Do all the workers know that Anil rapes women?

A:  Yes. 


I:  What do you mean?

A: I mean, everyone knew about Anil's, but Faruk sir's ones weren't found out.  Nobody told.


I:  When you worked at the factory, did anyone hit you?

A:  Yes, sometimes they would hit us, slap us...


I:  How, please tell.

A:  They would curse at us, slap us.


I:  Why?

A:  Because the production wouldn't get done, so, they'd curse at us, they'd slap us.


I:  Did they ever hit you?

A:  Yes, one day Faruk sir hit me before.


I:  Where, how did he hit you?

A:  On the runway.  He just slapped me.


I:  With cloth on the runway or his hand?

A:  He slapped me with his hand!


I:  With the other girls, do they try to touch them...with bad intentions...

A:  Not with bad intentions, on the line they don't do things like that...just for work things, they give a slap or something, or curse at us.


I:  Now, if you told the office, what kind of action could they take

A: They'd send you away


I:  Well, are there any instances where they told the office, where they did something on your behalf, are there any situations like that, or would they do the opposite?

A: The opposite reaction, they sent them away.


I:  Who told management?

A:  Yes.  If you try to tell, they threaten to send you to jail, to send you to Bangladesh.  So nobody says anything.  Like me, I said, I'm going to tell no matter what.  That's why they didn't let me go to the company and didn't even let me work.  Like that they got me a ticket and sent me back.  Now if they got the ticket from the owner's pocket, or if Faruk sir gave it or Anil gave it, nobody knows.  None of the workers know, the staff don't know either, only Faruk sir and Anil know.


I:  How many months of salary did you have left of your work, and do you want that money?

A:  I want the salary of course, and I want justice.  The rape he did to me, the abuse he did to me, I want justice for that. 


I:  How many more months do they owe you?

A:  About two months.  One month, for work...when they had me sitting there, not working...and social security.  And then, one year they had extended my contract.  If I'd stayed that one year I would have gotten some more money.


I:  When you came back, did you have any money in hand?

A:  Yes, I did.  There was some money I was owed anyway, so I would withdraw that money.  When I was sitting at home, I was thinking, I need money, they need money back home.  They need money back home.  Then I was owed some money from people, so they gave me that money and I sent it home, that's all.  Other than that, I didn't have any money at all.  When I was coming back, I wasn't able to bring anything. 


I:  Okay.  Faruk sir, do you think he should go to jail?

A:  Of course.  I want his judgment and that he go to jail, with that I'd be happy.  So that he can't do this to another woman again.


I:  How many girls do you think, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan...

A:  Altogether, we were about 950 workers, boys and girls together, but how many Bengalis...I think around 400.


I:  No, I mean rape, how long do you think these rapes have been going on?

A:  About a year, a year and a half it's been going on.  A year, a year and a half, I started seeing it.  After we got there, the Sri Lankan girls used to tell us, Anil is very bad.  We used to talk to them and they'd tell us things.  What I saw, he seemed nice, he'd talk to everyone, he'd come around at Eid time, he'd speak at ceremonies.  He drinks alcohol and he'd come around and say nice things, put his hand on everyone's head affectionately.  Then we all thought he was pretty good.  But the Sri Lankan girls would tell us secretly, don't ever talk to Anil alone in a room, don't talk to him too freely.


I:  What is Anil?  What country is he from?

A:  Anil is Sri Lankan. 


I:  What was his position?

A:  He was the manager.


I:  What do most of the workers think of Anil?

A:  They didn't think well of him, but they were kind of scared of him, you know, cuz he'd say I'll send you back to Sri Lanka, things like that...everyone was always a little scared.  They wouldn't say anything in front of him, just off to the side.


I:  What would they say?

A:  Just, don't mix with him, don't go to the factory alone if he calls you, don't go into a room with him alone.


I:  What would happen if you went alone?

A:  He'd say all sorts of bad types of things to you, or call you names and things.


I: Do you think -

(End of recording)




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