Thursday, August 16, 2012

Train riding in Bangladesh

Millions of Muslim city dwellers in Bangladesh and elsewhere will head to their home villages to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration at the end of Ramadan, a month of strict fasting. Trains are packed to the rafters & many who can’t afford the ticket fare or find room in the trains will ride on the roof or like this woman between train carriages while the shaking train moves along at 25 miles (40 kilometers) to 40 miles (65 kilometers) per hour. Those riding the corroded metal roof have to duck low-hanging tree limbs, avoid decapitation by wires, electrocution by power lines, or rolling right off. All loaded up with thousands of hitchers, these trains are a wonder to see but dangerous as hell. Roof riding is a practice dating back to the partition in 1947 & has become one of the leading causes of child deaths in the country--perhaps because many homeless children live in train stations & ride the trains for excitement & because many child workers (& migrants) ride them to work. In top photo families headed to Jamalpur from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, ride the roof (notice they have nothing to hold on to) & in bottom photo a woman straddles the coupling between railway carriages of a train heading north from Dhaka to her home town.  (Top photo by Andrew Biraj/Reuters; bottom photo by Amy Helene Johansson)

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