Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain

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Begum Rokeya

Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain ( Bengali রোকেয়া সাখাওয়াত হোসেন Rokeẏā Sākhāoẏāt Hosen ; born December 9, 1880 in Pairabondh , Bengal , British India ; † December 9, 1932 in Kolkata ) was a Bengali writer and social worker in British India in the early 20th century. She became famous for her commitment to gender equality . She was a major Islamic feminist .


Begum Rokeya's birth house in Pairabondh ( Rangpur ), Bangladesh

Rokeya Khatun was born in Pairabondh in the district of Rangpur in 1880 , which is now in Bangladesh . Her father was Jahiruddin Muhammad Abu Ali Haidar Saber, an educated zamindar (landowner). Rokeya had two sisters, Karimunnesa Khatun and Humayra Khatun, and three brothers, one of whom died as a child. Rokeya's eldest brother Ibrahim and her older sister Karimunnesa both had a huge impact on their lives. Karimunnesa wanted to study Bengali, which was the language of the majority in Bengal. The family disapproved of this because many upper-class Muslims preferred Arabic and Persian to their mother tongue. Ibrahim taught English and Bengali to Rokeya and her sister Karimunnesa; both sisters became writers.

Rokeya Hussain married in 1896 when she was sixteen years old. Her husband was the Urdu-speaking Khan Bahadur Sakhawat Hussain, deputy justice of the peace of Bhagalpur , now an area in the Indian state of Bihar . He continued her brother's work by encouraging her to learn Bengali and English. He suggested that she write what Rokeya Hussain did in Bengali, the language of the masses. Her literary career began in 1902 with her work Pipasa (thirst).

In 1909 Sakhawat Hussain died. He had encouraged his wife to put money aside so that she could start a school for Islamic girls. Five months after his death, Rokeya founded a high school , which was named "Sakhawat Memorial Girls High School " as a memorial to her husband. It started with only five students in the Urdu-speaking area of ​​Bhagalpur. After a legal battle, Rokeya Hussain had to move the school to the Bengali-speaking Kolkata in 1911 ; it remained one of the most popular girls' high schools in town.

Begum Rokeya also founded the Anjuman-e-Khawateen-e-Islam ( Islamic Women's Association ). She advocated reform and believed that narrow-mindedness and excessive conservatism were mainly to blame for the relatively slow development of Muslims in British India .

She died on December 9, 1932 of heart problems . In Bangladesh , Rokeya Day is celebrated in memory of them on December 9th.

Gender equality

Begum Rokeya Memorial, at the Begum Rokeya Memorial Center in Pairabondh (Rangpur)

In order to sensitize the public to gender equality and to stand up for the emancipation of women, she wrote many articles, stories and novels, most of which she wrote in Bengali. In doing so, she used humor, irony, and satire to draw attention to the injustices that Bengali-speaking women have faced. She claimed that women who fulfilled their human potential could best prove the glory of Allah. She stressed that discrimination would only end if women were able to work in the profession they chose themselves.


  • Sultana's dream (Sultana's Dream), an important early work of feminist science fiction , that of a utopian role reversal is about men and women.
  • Oborodhbashini (The Captive Woman)
  • Motichur
  • Paddorag (essence of the lotus)
  • (unfinished) Narir Adhikar (The Rights of Women), an essay for the Islamic Women's Association


  • “How shameless the girls have become!” Portrait of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain . IKO - Verlag für Intercultural Communication, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-88939-835-9 .

Web links

Commons : Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Begum Rokeya Day today in The Daily Star (Bangladesh) of December 9, 2013