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Woman of Dignity: Kolpona

Beyond the limelight are millions of women around the world, living quiet and unknown lives, nonetheless filled with dignity and value. Moms, Teachers, Business Owners, Seamstresses, Artists, Daughters.

Each woman (& man!) in this world is a precious creature, valued not by our popularity, our visibility, what we produce, or even our roles. We have value, simply, because we are. Our Women of Dignity series profiles these women. [You can nominate a woman, too.]

Woman of Dignity: Kolpona* 

Location: Mymensingh, Bangladesh

When Kolpona was around 16 years old, she broke local tradition and married a man of her choice rather then waiting for her family to arrange her marriage. Neither her parents nor the groom's parents accepted the marriage. As they rented their own home and began life together, Kolpona had so many dreams for their future. She gave birth a baby boy.

Kolpona took a loan from a non governmental organization so that they could buy a small auto rickshaw for her husband to drive to earn a living. Instead he kept all the money and disappeared. Kolpona searched but she couldn't find him anywhere. A neighbor said that he had seen him in Dhaka. She waited for him, but he didn't even phone her.

With a small son and no food to eat, she went to her parents in desperation. They refused to forgive her and take her back. She rented a house in another area where she met women who were part of the sex worker network. They connected her with customers. The year and a half she was in prostitution are years she still tries to forget.

She told the madams that she wanted to leave prostitution. One madam told her about the Mennonite Central Committee's Pobitra program. When she was ready to finish her training, working at Basha appealed to her because of the day care facilities for her son.

Kolpona is very proud of her job. It gives her the opportunity to live an honorable life with her son. Her dream is to be self-reliant and to provide a good education for her son.

*her name has been changed & images are anonymous
to protect her reputation in the community.

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