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Hossain, Rokeya Sakhawat

Entry updated 2 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1880-1932) Bengali activist, educator and author, born Roquia Khatun; her surname is also given as Hussain, and she was also known (and published) as Begama Rokeẏā, Rokeya Begum and Begum Rokeya Sakhaoyat Hossain. It has been suggested that she may have been born in 1877. She was fluent in several languages, but from the beginning of her career in 1902 wrote mostly in Bengali; her influential advocacy of education for women, and for women's rights in general, mark her as perhaps the first Islamic feminist of importance, certainly for the twentieth century. Her conviction that modern Islam had been corrupted as far as the treatment of women was concerned has only become more controversial in the decades since her relatively early death. The day of her death, 9 December, is now celebrated in Bangladesh as Rokeya Day.

Of sf interest are Sultana's Dream (1905 The Indian Ladies' Magazine; 1908), a Feminist Utopia, set in a woman-dominated distant Near Future where men are voluntarily sequestered (initially to escape decimation in a devastating War) (see Gender), women Scientists have made great developments in Transportation, Weather Control, electricity-driven automated Agriculture, and social governance, with criminal activities being things of the past. It was written in English; a second utopian tale, Padmarag (1924), which was written in Bengali, is set in a protective Keep in which oppressed women create an intense community. The two stories have been assembled as Sultana's Dream and Padmarag: Two Feminist Utopias (omni with Padmarag trans Barnita Bagshi 2005; exp 2022). [JC]

Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

born Mithapukur Upazila, Rangpur, Bengal Presidency, British Indian Empire [now Bangladesh]: 9 December 1880[1877 has also been given]

died Calcutta [now Kolkata], British Indian Empire [now India]: 9 December 1932

works (selected)


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