Foto: Stefanie Silber
Arpita Roychoudhury (pseudonym) is a blogger and activist. She was born in Bangladesh in 1995. Due to her religious affiliation as a member of a Hindu minority, she learned early in her life what discrimination means. In 2012 Arpita Roychoudhury began to write on Facebook and in Bengali blogs about the discrimination of women, children, and minorities. After her profile had been blocked several times, she decided to use the pseudonym Arpita Roychoudhury.
In 2013, following pressure from radical Islamist groups and after Section 57 of the Information and Communication Act had been modified, the Bengali government began to expurgate texts by humanistic authors who took a critical stance towards Islam. Several bloggers were brutally killed, many had to flee abroad and were compelled to delete their texts from the internet. Roychoudhury was among those, who were affected by this tightening of the laws; the threats against her became more and more dangerous, and the authorities failed to protect her.
Since 2014 Roychoudhury had been working in a leading position for the blog „Nobojug“ (English: New Age). As an exposed part of the feminist, secular Blogger scene, she was openly harassed, mistreated and severely threatened in her home country. Once gang of youngsters broke into her parents’ house and intimidated the whole family. Another time, a group of aggressive men threatened to rape Roychoudhury, and there were also death threats. Nevertheless, she started to study botany at the National University of Bangladesh to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree, hoping she would be safer at the campus. She continued writing critical blog texts until she was finally kidnapped, humiliated and tortured for several days. Even when Roychoudhury, according to her testimony, barcely escaped an assassination attempt in broad daylight, she was still denied support by the state authorities
Eventually, she gave up her studies and could, thanks to a scholarship from Frontline Defenders (FLD), Center of Inquiry (CFI), Protecting Belief Asia Region and Forum Asia, flee to India together with her younger sister. From December 2017 to December 2018 Arpita Roychoudhury lived as a writer in Exile in the scholarship program of the German PEN in Berlin.