The assassination of two gay activists in Bangladesh in 2016 hit new EIT Tairāwhiti Bachelor of Social Work lecturer, Kanamik Khan hard.
This tragedy marked the beginning of his PhD thesis and the end of his possibility to ever safely go home.
Kanamik had already completed a degree in social work when the assassination happened and it planted the seed for his doctoral thesis titled as “Healthcare and the Repression of Sexual and Gender Diverse Communities in Bangladesh.”
Also, titled as “Undercover fieldwork: A queer experience of healthcare in Bangladesh”, in May this year a portion of his thesis will be published in an edited book by academic publisher, Edward Elgar Publishing UK.
Sexual and gender diverse people are stigmatised in Bangladesh – this reaches the researchers who work with them, causing safety issues and is why Kanamik may not safely return to his homeland.
To collect data for his thesis, Kanamik spent five months in 2018 as a volunteer working with sexual and gender diverse people in Bangladesh.
Even doing data collection online was difficult because first he had to get the trust of the people he was working with.
He is pleased he has recently submitted his PhD thesis; that his work has been accepted to be published; and to have a job – he started soon after the 2019 Covid lockdown.
Kanamik’s passion is sharing his knowledge.
He says being a Muslim from Bangladesh gives social work students doing the Bachelor four-year programme, another dimension.
“A student last year commented to me that there are not many people from Asia here and it is lovely to have someone from a different cultural grouping with diverse backgrounds.”
As a registered social worker, Kanamik says the attributes of good social workers include being empathetic, non-judgemental, non-stigmatising and having good interpersonal skills.
“Also they can be critical or reflective on their own values and can work in a team.”
Kanamik is looking forward to meeting up with his wife (Nafisha Tasmin) again – their separation for last twelve months is one of the sad stories of Covid 19.
They have been married for two years now and Nafisha, a medical doctor, had to go to London a couple of months before Covid 19 broke to visit her grandmother.
“Because neither of us are citizens/permanent residents of New Zealand, she has not been allowed to come back until the borders re–open.”
“I am looking forward to that day.”
“She has applied several times to return to New Zealand but rejected every time.”
Meanwhile, Kanamik is looking toward post-doctoral research.
“I have further ideas from my PhD findings that I want to investigate further.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Social Work Programme at EIT Tairāwhiti should go to the website of call into the main office in Palmerston Road.