The director, Lipika Pelham, travels undercover with various hidden cameras and a rudimentary crew to a remote part of south eastern Bangladesh, to report on claims of human rights abuses against indigenous Buddhist minorities of the area. Chittagong Hill Tracts are home to thirteen indigenous groups practising mostly Theravada Buddhism. Thousands were forced off their lands from the 1960s until the 1990s by Bengali settlers who were sent there by the government, which eventually imposed a military rule. An insurgency that started in the mid 1970s ended in a peace settlement in 1997 under which the army was supposed to withdraw but it continues to maintain a tight grip on the area.

Lipika is one of the few outsiders to enter the region in recent years as indigenous people are not allowed to speak to anyone who's not from the area, without military supervision. Her film documents first-hand accounts of mass rape and torture, and claims from indigenous inhabitants that soldiers have been involved in evicting people from their homes.

"Shame" carries details of disappearances of indigenous activists and attempts to forcibly convert young Buddhist children to Islam as well as accusations of rape by Bengali settlers of girls as young as thirteen.

The making of "Shame" coincides with the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of an indigenous human rights activist, Kalpana Chakma, who has not been seen since.

  • Lipika Pelham
  • Lipika Pelham
  • Lipika Pelham
  • Buddhist minorities in south-eastern Bangladesh
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    58 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 17, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    30,700 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Lipika Pelham

Lipika Pelham is a British-Bengali journalist and filmmaker who worked for the BBC in London for 10 years before moving to Jerusalem in 2005. She has compiled and presented numerous programmes for the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4 during her first years in Jerusalem.

Her first feature documentary, Deadly Honour, was released in 2009. It was shot in central Israel and the film documents the testimonies of women in a Bedouin Arab community, their ordeal facing honour crimes. The film was two years in the making and involved extensive research into the now-resettled Bedouin Arabs in Juarish, Ramle. It is a closed neighbourhood where lawlessness and clan rule prevail to the extent that girls and women are killed, often with the permission or with the active participation of their family members, because they have supposedly sullied their honour.

‘Deadly Honour’ was premiered at the Docaviv festival in Tel Aviv.
It has since been screened around the world in numerous festivals and TV channels, and received many awards including the prestigious Special Jury Award at the Prix CMCA festival in Marseilles in 2010.

Lipika's second film, "Land for the Nomads" is a documentary on a lone Israeli lawyer’s struggle to protect a community of Bedouins in the Judean desert. The film was released in 2011 to great critical acclaim and was premiered at Exground film festival, Wiesbaden, Germany. It was shown in many festivals and universities, think tanks and seminars around the world.

Her next film, "Women in Love" was commissioned by the BBC World TV. It's about the first known case of a lesbian marriage in Bangladesh.

"Spare Parts" is a short film published on BBC online on a visionary Orthodox Jew's campaign to promote organ donation in Israel, where it is seen as a taboo.

Lipika's latest film, SHAME, was made after a risky undercover reporting assignment in a closed militarised zone in south eastern Bangladesh where an army rule has been in place against the wishes of the indigenous mostly Buddhist population. Lipika speaks to rape victims as young as 13 and victims of house demolition carried out by Bengali settlers while the Bangladesh government and the army remained inactive.

Lipika now lives in London and works as an independent writer, filmmaker and a reporter for the BBC.

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Director Statement

“Shame", is mostly filmed by hidden cameras. I went into the region embedded in a local tourism film crew. While the footage of the hills and general landscape was captured under that guise, all the interviews were done secretly as outsiders are not allowed to speak to local residents without military presence. The interviewees include young rape victims, runaway Buddhist children from madrassas where they had been forcibly taken under an Islamisation programme, and an exclusive interview with Kalindi Chakma, whose sister, Kalpana, an internationally known human rights activist, was allegedly abducted by the army 20 years ago and who has not been seen since. The film starts and ends with Kalindi’s account of the terrible night when the soldiers came to his door asking for Kalpana. Her last words were, "Brother, where are they taking me?"