Category Archives: Women

Indelible Moments from an Islander’s Life: Thinadhoo Genocide

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Thinadhoo Island is the capital of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and has its own dialect of Dhivehi and its own unique history. This island was formerly known as Havaru Thinadhoo. ‘Havaru’ refers to the bloodstained attempts by a Sultan in Maldives to capture the island during the 16th century. After years of prosperity and fortune, the ‘havaru’ events of the 16th century recurred in February 1962.

In 4 February 1962 Thinadhoo was completely destroyed on the orders of Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir to end the separatist movement of the United Suvadive Republic. The islanders were told to go to the shallow reef, where they were forced to stand for hours in water up to their necks. Meanwhile all houses were destroyed, all wells broken and filled with rubble, all trees were cut down and much property was looted while the islanders watched.

The island was then depopulated and its people dispersed. Women and children were raped in front of their families. Between 200 and 300 prisoners were taken back to Malé City, where they were tortured and most killed. Here is the unforgettable life story of one woman who endured the pain and agony during the 1962, Thinadhoo Genocide.

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The Woman with the Beard

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“I couldn’t take the stares from strangers so I’d lock myself in my room. It got so bad that I just didn’t want to live anymore”  – Harnaam Kaur-

Suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, 11 year old Harnaam Kaur would lock herself in her room, trying to protect herself from the mockery, when the first signs of facial hair began to develop on her body. Soon the stubbles grew into a beard and the hair began to spread to her arms and chest. She would cut and shave the hair, trying to save herself from the negative comments and to some extent the death threats she began receiving.

Now a 23 year old woman, Harnaam Kaur is determined never to cut her beard again and to love herself for who she is. Recently baptized as a Sikh (a religion which forbids cutting hair), Kaur says she feels more feminine and sexy, loving herself for who she is. Even though, at first, her family was opposed to the idea of keeping the beard, with support from her brother, Gurdeep Singh, Kaur has been able to overcome the challenges that posed along with her controversial decision.

Working as a primary teacher at the local Sikh Primary School in Slough, Berkshire, England, Kaur hopes women all over the world facing similar conditions will find confidence from her story. She has begun uploading videos on Youtube, to share her story, despite the numerous death threats she still keeps on receiving.

“I want other women to find the strength that I have. If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”