A Cautious Analysis
Throughout history, there have only been few female heads of state due to widespread misogyny. Most female leaders that managed to rise to power despite this had the advantage of dynastic inheritance on their side. Like the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, but were tried to be erased from the historical record by their male misogynist successors anyway. However, female political leadership does not necessarily imply advancements for society in general or women in particular. In 18th and 19th century Europe, dynastic interests came to trump hatred of women a few times.
On the one hand, Catherine the Great of Russia proved herself as a capable monarch, as attested by her title of “the Great “, and timidly tried to improve things for some primarily upper-class women by opening higher education for them. On the other hand, Queen Victoria of England mainly served as a figurehead. Her rule often called the Victorian Age, is also synonymous with an era incredibly prudish and anti-women. In more modern times, women, of course, were also able to combat sexism and come to power democratically. Within these times, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is becoming the first female modern-day dictator.
The mere fact that she is one of the world’s most powerful women excites some superficial Twitter liberals. While, for example, she undoubtedly deserves her ranks in lists of the world’s most powerful women (Forbes 2017; 2018), her inclusion in the list of the “top 100 global thinkers “(Foreign Policy 2019) is more than questionable, and the other female leaders of the Council of Women World Leaders (Wilson Center 2012) should be careful to associate themselves with the gravedigger of Bangladesh’s democracy.
Twitter liberals often use the expression “slay queen “to voice their approval for strong female figures. Sheikh Hasina takes that as literal advice, as the many “disappearances “of members of the opposition (Human Rights Watch 2020) and the at least tolerated, likely even encouraged killing spree of Bangladeshi Islamists (The Guardian 2016 a) attests to.
The Revenant of Dynasty Politics
While Bangladeshi society still disadvantages women in general, both Sheikh Hasina and her long-time rival Khaleda Zia rose to leadership of the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) as succesors to Hasina’s father and Zia’s late husband, who had founded these parties. Hasina’s father had founded the Awami League and the country of Bangladesh with secular, democratic, and socialist ambitions. As such, it made sense that a capable woman would continue this liberating course, and earlier in her career, it seemed as if she would. But the near-total corruption by her near-total power would steer her into an entirely different course. For example, in the 1980s and 90s, the Awami League under Sheikh Hasina fought to defend and re-establish democracy. As part of these efforts, they demanded the 1996 election to be held under a neutral caretaker government to avoid election interference by the ruling military dictatorship, which was to be abolished (Burns 1996). That she now denies the same demands by the opposition tells you all you need to know about her current dedication to democracy (Malik 2019).
Instead, Hasina’s dedication to enriching herself and to general corruption is apparent (Netra News 2021) and reaches back to at least 2007 (AP 2007; Daily Star 2007; Times of India 2008). In this sense, Hasina is more successful than some of her male counterparts, like Italy’s wanna-be dictator Silvio Berlusconi. As he did, she uses the state as a machine for personal enrichment and to deflect judicial investigations into her crimes. Still, unlike him, she is successfully doing so for over a decade.
Altar and Throne
Not only did Sheikh Hasina come to power by dynastic means. Like her pre-democratic successors, she utilises both state repression and religious indoctrination to keep it. While one could appreciate that she is also cracking down on organised Islamism in the form of the party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), she is only doing so because an Islamist party could challenge her rule (Malik 2019). The afore mentioned killing spree by Islamist terror gangs that are not a party is tolerated or even encouraged. The butchers are appeased, as they terrorise precisely those striving for genuine democracy and freedom (The Guardian 2016 a; The Guardian 2016 b; Japan Times 2021).
That most of the reports on Hasina’s crimes and dictatorship can only be published outside of Bangladesh is further proof of her well-documented warfare on free speech (DW 2021; Amnesty International 2018; Rabbee 2018).
Sucking off Modi
Despite all of this, Hasina is relatively safe from criticism by foreign governments. One reason is Bangladesh’s role as a supplier of cheap labour, making 80% of its export revenue by cheap textile products, eagerly sucked up by the hypocritical western economic and political leaders (Asia Times 2019). They even shoved the United Nations Champions of the Earth Award up her arse (Firstpost 2015). The other reason is Hasina’s close, and one might even say intimate, relationship with India’s Hindu-nationalist and pretty fascist President Narendra Modi (Malik 2019). Because it makes sense for Bangladesh to have good relations with the much bigger neighbour that nearly surrounds it, the Awami League traditionally pursued such a relationship. But the match made in hell between the two emerging dictators lifted this to a new level. In a way, this a very abusive relationship. India is blocking Bangladesh’s access to fresh water, causing countless problems like the decline of fish populations, which especially poor Bangladeshi citizens rely on for nutrition and the salinisation of agricultural land, because seawater is streaming into the emptied riverbeds (Climate Diplomacy 2015).
Furthermore, India has erected barbed wire fences all around Bangladesh. It is willing to let all 161 Million Bangladeshis drown when climate change and rising sea levels will flood the flat state of Bangladesh in the foreseeable future (Datta 2018). That Hasina is willing to suck off Modi despite all this must be due to her knowing that he may let everyone in Bangladesh drown, except his favourite bitch.
Female heads of state always had to endure sexist slander by misogynist idiots. Catherine the Great, for example, had vicious rumours spread about her alleged sexual preference for male horses. On the other hand, it is also a scandal that even tame and unprovocative criticisms of her majesty Sheikh Hasina face harsh punishments. So, in full knowledge and condemnation of the just mentioned facts and the interest of accuracy, it is fair to say that Sheikh Hasina gets doggy-styled by filthy pigs. Like Narendra Modi.
As this text is just a quick and courteous welcome to his recent visit in Bangladesh, you may expect more thorough investigations soon.