"The brutal Pakistani army snatched away all the charm and happiness from my life 45 years ago," said Biva Rani, struggling for survival with her physically and mentally challenged son in Gournadi upazila under the district.
She lives in a shabby tin-shed house of her brother Upendranath Mandal near Torki Bandar in Gournadi and works as a weaver and occasional midwife to make a living as her husband left her in 1988, after knowing her identity as a Birangana (war heroine), Biva said.
During the 197 1Liberation War, Biva, then reading in Class VIII, lived with five siblings at the house of her father Umesh Chanda Mandal, a small trader at Torkir Char.
"In the month of Jaisthya (mid-May to mid-June), Pakistani army aided by local Razakars attacked Torki. While trying to flee, our family members got scattered and I with some other women took shelter inside a sugarcane field," she said.
"Razakar Ayub Ali and his associates nabbed us from there and handed us over to the army. We became victim of their brutalities and I became senseless at one stage," said a weeping Biva.
"Later local freedom fighter Sagir Mia rescued me and brought me home. I was married with Anukul Majumdar of the area the next month. Then I with several members of the two families went to West Bengal in India as refugee," Biva said.
"After the independence, we returned home. My only son Sagor was born in 1988. That year my husband came to know of my victimisation in 1971. Afterwards, he left me and went to India.
Later Sagor became physically and mentally disabled as nerves and muscles of his legs dried due to alleged wrong treatment for head injury at Barisal Sher E Bangla Medical College Hospital.
"I do tailoring, sewing and handloom weaving, and also work as a midwife, on the basis of my earlier experience as a health worker. Zamal Mia, Esahaq chairman and a few other locals helped on different occasions.
"Unlike many other women victims of the Liberation War, I did not get any help from the government. I appealed to the Ministry of Liberation War to include my name as a freedom fighter but to no response yet.
"At this old age, I want recognition as a freedom fighter and necessary support from the government," Biva said.