ABID AZAD

Things that make you to Think

Losing identity

How the Bedey community fare in the mainstream society and what threatens their existence…

Bedey people, a nomadic community also known as “Water Gypsy” or “River Gypsy”, are still found living in 44 districts in Bangladesh, carrying on with a different culture, social system and livelihood. According to their own estimate, there are around 500,000 Bedeys around the country. Although a moderately large community, Bedeys are still deprived from proper education, health services, access to public resources; they even prefer not to be identified as Bedey as their identity always results in stigma and discrimination.

Early marriage, polygamy, lack of family planning, gender discrimination and illegal migration are some more common problems that prevail in the Bedey community.

There are 16 Bedey groups in Bangladesh: Sandar, Laoa, Gayen, Mir Shikari, Mal, Shapurey, Barial, Tair, Bage, Rayenda, Bagikar, Rashia Bediya, Saudagar, Nagarchi, Taila and Bandura. Each group has unique customs of its own. Among them, Sandar is the largest group of Bedeys. Sandars are the most well-off among the Bedeys; they have abandoned their tradition of living on waters and settled on land, earning livelihood by setting up small businesses like tea stalls, tailoring shops, small restaurants, etc. However, the rest of the groups are still living in dire conditions, both on dry lands and boats.

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