The ethnic minority Marma sisters, still undergoing treatment at a hospital in Rangamati after being raped and molested allegedly by security force members five days ago, are afraid to go back home in the remote hills of Bilaichari fearing further harassment.
They said that the revelation that their rapists were in army uniform definitely enraged the security force members who had also threatened them not to disclose the matter.
Sharing their fear with journalists at the hospital on Thursday, the siblings said that their fear was not only for their own safety, but for the future of their entire family, their parents and six-year-old younger brother.
‘What if they (the rapist) want revenge? What if they kill our brother to take revenge?’ wondered one of the sisters.
The elder sister is aged 17 while younger one is 14.
‘We don’t want to go back home. If we go back, we will face serious consequences for sure,’ she added.
‘We want to live and we want to move to a safe place directly from the hospital,’ the victim demanded.
In fact, said the victim, they were worried about safety even at the hospital.
During the interview, journalists saw people unrelated to the victims were following them and the conversation they were having.
On Tuesday, after the victims were admitted to the hospital, police and detectives obstructed journalists from reaching the sisters.
The sisters were raped and molested on Monday. It was not before Tuesday afternoon that they were hospitalised. The condition of the elder sister was critical, who is recovering fast.
The elder sister recalled that she was raped by five to six men wearing army uniform in her residence with her parents taken out of home.
‘I cannot sleep at night,’ said the Marma girl.
Meanwhile, in Dhaka and Rangamati different organisations demonstrated on Friday in protest against the incident, demanding exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.
In Rangamati, three organisations Pahari Chhatra Parishad, Hill Women’s Federation and Ganatantrik Juba Forum held a rally.
In Dhaka, a citizens’ platform organised a human chain at Shahbagh in the morning.
Joining the human chain, Oikya NAP president Pankaj Bhattacharya said that the CHT was now a place where abusers and rapists would not have to worry about the consequences of their crimes.
He said perpetrators of such crimes were never punished.
‘The rape incident is not an isolated incident,’ said Dhaka University history teacher Mesbah Kamal.
‘It is reflective of how Bangladesh sees CHT. Bangladesh treats CHT as if it is a colony, not a part of the country,’ he added.
Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad leader Rana Das Gupta said that army should punish the rapists as otherwise it would mean endorsing the perpetrators.
Presiding over the programme, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum’s general secretary Sanjeeb Drong said that a culture of impunity was prevailing in the CHT.
The Inter Services Public Relation Directorate told New Age that the allegation brought against the army was not true.
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