I remembered him often saying, “I feel proud to be a part of history. We are working against the stigma, against the odds.”

By May 23, 2023 Newsroom

Shale Ahmed

Executive Director, Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bandhu)

It was a (season) in 1996 when I first met Shiv. He was travelling to Bangladesh to assess the situation of the men who have sex with men (MSM) population in Bangladesh here on their sexuality, sexual health, and HIV. Anisul Islam Hero, the current chairperson of Bandhu introduced him to me. He was a friend of the head of the Naz foundation where Shiv was working. Shiv used to extensively travel in countries regarding the sexual health of the socially-excluded people. That time, the MSM community in Bangladesh was suffering tremendously with severe sexual health and STI cases.

I remembered sharing and discussing with Shiv regarding the miseries of the MSM community with their sexual health issues. Shiv then introduced the idea of working for this community. At that time, we did not know anything about the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) movement, even this term was not in action as well. It was an impossible journey to start from nothing and Shiv motivated and paved a way of hope for this community.

For me, Shiv was like a mentor, a guru. I was just a student, completing my Masters at that time. I had no idea about NGOs or CSOs, how the system works and others. Shiv taught me about all these. Even he taught me how to craft a professional email, as I can remember. I can say, what I am now is all because of Shiv.

I remembered him often saying, “I feel proud to be a part of history. We are working against the stigma, against the odds.” I carry his words with me in this difficult journey to get the rights for the people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) community in Bangladesh. 

I remember him when I see any positive change and development of this community. I believe his works need to be discussed to the new generation, so that they reminisce about the legacy of Shiv and pay tribute to his contribution to the SOGIESC rights movement in Bangladesh.

About the contributor:

Shale Ahmed

Shale Ahmed is the Executive Director of Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bandhu), a rights activist and a dedicated pioneer on securing human rights, quality health and SRHR, livelihood and sustainability for diverse SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics) population in Bangladesh. 

He started his work for this community since 1996 with the establishment of Bandhu envisioning a quality life for the SOGIESC people.

He is currently involved with several national, regional and international networks and initiatives including National AIDS/STI network of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Human Rights Forum, South Asia MSM and AIDS Network, APCOM, South Asia Sexual and Gender Diversity network, Commonwealth Equality Network, UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and many others to establish the human rights of this community in Bangladesh.

Mr. Ahmed was awarded the International Ashoka Fellowship in 2009 for his outstanding contribution to sexual health and rights of SOGIESC population in Bangladesh.

Here are some of the tributes in Shiv’s memory. 

Joey Joleen Mataele

Sunil Babu Pant

J V R Prasada Rao

Dennis Altman

Manisha Dhakal

Paul Causey

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