Taslima Nasreen: A Brave Woman – Writer, Human Rights Activist, and a Doctor

Taslima Nasreen

Taslima Nasrin is a renowned Bangladeshi author, feminist, and human rights activist, known for her outspoken views on women’s rights and secularism. Born on August 25, 1962, in Mymensingh, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), she has become a prominent figure both in the literary world and the global discourse on gender equality. Here is a detailed biography of Taslima Nasrin, covering her background, schooling, career, personal life, and achievements.

Taslima Nasrin was born into a Bengali Muslim family. Her father, Dr. Rajab Ali, was a physician, and her mother, Edul Ara, was a housewife. Taslima grew up in a conservative environment, but her family also valued education. From an early age, she exhibited a passion for literature and writing, which would later define her career.

Being the second of nine siblings, Taslima Nasrin experienced the dynamics of a large family. While the specifics of her relationships with each sibling remain largely private, the influence of familial bonds on her development is evident in her writings. The interplay of familial relationships, traditions, and societal expectations became recurring themes in her later works.

Schooling: Taslima Nasrin pursued her education in Bangladesh. She attended Mymensingh Girls’ Cadet College and later enrolled at the Mymensingh Medical College to study medicine. However, her interest in literature and writing led her to explore these fields alongside her medical studies. Even amidst the rigors of medical school, she found time to explore her creative side, laying the groundwork for a future where her words would transcend the boundaries of conventional storytelling.

Career: After completing her medical degree, Taslima worked as a medical officer for a brief period. During that time, she saw many young girls who were victims of rape, and most of them were Hindus. What upset her the most was not just that these girls were raped, but how horribly it was done. She also noticed that the people who did these things were all Muslims. Another shocking thing was that the parents of the Hindu girls were scared to tell the police about the crime.

When she was a kid and learned about the Prophet’s wives, she asked why people only talked about them being wives. This shows that she thought differently, and it wasn’t easy to fool her.

Because she felt for other women, she started writing short poems in the 80s. She got married early in 1982, but the marriage only lasted for four years. She bravely left her demanding husband and kept writing poems, some of which were about feelings.

In the early 90s, she began writing stories, and her most important work was in 1993, a reportage-novel called “Lajja.” In this book, she talked about the struggles of a Hindu family. It showed how Muslim men treated Hindu girls badly, forced them to marry, embarrassed them in public at the university, and even hurt a Hindu professor. The book talked about what happened in Bangladesh after the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was destroyed.

This showed the real side of Islam and Muslims in Bangladesh, challenging the idea that they were fair and open-minded.

It was clear that Bengali Muslims were very angry, and they threatened her life. She went to Europe, the US, and India, and eventually, she asked for protection in Sweden.

Taslima Nasrin has been really brave in speaking against Sharia and Islam. She was against the radical Islamic evil practices like “Tripple Talak” and  said “All India Muslim Personal Law Board should be abolished for the sake of Muslims”. She thinks education should not be about religion, and people should be free to choose their religion or be atheists after they grow up.

However, her true calling was in literature, and she began writing poetry and essays. In 1986, she published her first collection of poetry, “Shab Dwiper Raja” (The King of the Dark Island), which gained critical acclaim. She continued to write, addressing issues such as women’s rights, secularism, and humanism.

One of her most famous works is the novel “Lajja” (Shame), published in 1993. The book explores the religious tensions and persecution faced by Hindus in Bangladesh. “Lajja” received international attention but also sparked controversy and led to threats against Nasrin’s life.

Personal Life: Taslima Nasrin’s personal life has been marked by both triumphs and challenges. She has been married twice. Her first marriage, to Bangladeshi journalist and poet Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, ended in divorce. Later, she married a Swedish engineer, Dr. Topu Roy, but this marriage also ended in divorce.

Nasrin’s personal life became intertwined with her public persona as she faced persecution and threats for her outspoken views. In 1994, she went into exile to escape religious fundamentalist threats in Bangladesh. She has lived in various countries, including Sweden, the United States, and India.

Betterment of Society and Feminist Perspectives: Taslima Nasrin emerged as a feminist icon, using her literary prowess to challenge societal norms and advocate for the rights of women. Her writings became a powerful tool for dissecting the patriarchal structures that permeated Bangladeshi society. Through her characters and narratives, she questioned the status quo and called for a more egalitarian and just society.

Beyond her written works, Taslima actively engaged in advocacy for gender equality, secularism, and freedom of expression. Her commitment to bettering society extended beyond words to tangible efforts aimed at dismantling oppressive systems.

Struggles and Exile: The pursuit of social betterment came at a cost for Taslima Nasrin. As her writings became increasingly critical of religious fundamentalism and societal norms, she faced vehement opposition. In 1994, the threats to her life became so severe that she was forced into exile. This marked a turning point in her life, as she left Bangladesh to ensure her safety.

Living in exile meant grappling with isolation, the pain of separation from her homeland, and the constant fear of reprisals. Yet, despite these challenges, Taslima remained resilient. Her exile became a testament to her commitment to principles of human rights, free speech, and the pursuit of a more just society.

Achievements and International Impact: Taslima Nasrin’s literary contributions earned her global acclaim. In 1994, she was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament, further underscoring the international significance of her work. Her writings, translated into multiple languages, reached audiences far beyond the borders of Bangladesh, resonating with individuals who shared her commitment to social justice and equality.

Her impact extended to the realms of academia, where her works became subjects of study and discussion. Taslima’s unique position as both a literary figure and an activist set her apart, solidifying her legacy as a trailblazer in the pursuit of a more inclusive and progressive society.


Achievements: Taslima Nasrin’s contributions to literature and her advocacy for women’s rights have earned her both accolades and criticism. Some of her notable achievements include:

  1. Literary Recognition: Taslima Nasrin has authored numerous books, including novels, poetry collections, and essays. Her works have been translated into multiple languages, reaching a global audience.
  2. International Impact: “Lajja” gained international acclaim and drew attention to the issues of religious persecution and communalism. Nasrin’s courage in addressing these sensitive topics made her an influential figure in global discussions on human rights.
  3. Human Rights Activism: Taslima Nasrin is a vocal advocate for secularism, women’s rights, and freedom of expression. Despite facing personal risks, she continues to raise awareness about these issues through her writings and public engagements.
  4. Awards: Nasrin has received several awards for her literary contributions, including the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 1994.
  5. Exile and Resilience: Despite facing exile and living under the constant threat of violence, Taslima Nasrin has remained resilient in her commitment to advocating for human rights and challenging oppressive norms.

In conclusion, Taslima Nasrin’s life and career have been characterized by a passionate commitment to literature, human rights, and the empowerment of women. Her journey reflects the challenges faced by those who speak out against societal norms and oppression, and her work continues to inspire discussions on important social issues.

Delhi Magazine Team

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