THE rape of and sexual violence against two Marma sisters — the elder is 19 years old and the younger one is 14 — alleged to have been perpetrated by men in uniform in their house at Orachari of Rangamati at night on January 22 is gravely concerning as the culprits are yet to be brought to book thus far. The victims, as New Age reported on Monday, could not explain their traumatic experiences to everyone unambiguously for the sake of justice as they are unfamiliar with any other languages except Marma. What is disquieting is that the people, who had helped the victims, were subjected to harassment by the powerful persons who are enjoying political clout. Currently, both the victims are beset with a severe shock since the incident. The distressing experiences that they were forced to undergo during the incident may precipitate even a psychological disorder for them unless they are given proper physical and psychiatric treatment, and adequate security not for them only but also for their family. One must remember that this kind of sexual violence that was inflicted on them in that fateful night is so damaging for their soul that they may lose their faith in all social institutions, carrying a permanent wound on their psyche.
Rights activists’ four‑point demand at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday under the banner of Nagarik Samaj, a citizens’ platform, therefore, is more than justified. Their demand includes proper investigation and punishment of the perpetrators, who raped them that day. Rights activists also demanded that the perpetrators should be brought to justice under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act following a proper investigation. It has been noted that the local district administration has a propensity to ignore the intensity of this kind of violence when blame for this kind of incident is heaped on the victims alone especially when they happen to be the members of a minority group. The blame lies on the administration for procrastinating in holding of a credible inquiry into the incident as this is not the first such kind of sexual violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and even Chittagong. Violence of this sort on ethnic minorities has taken place on many an occasion. It is also true that these incidents stir public outcry and prompt authorities to take action — administrative, legal and otherwise. Regrettably, however, such actions last as long as the initial hue and cry lasts. Allegations have, meanwhile, been rife that investigations of these incidents are stalled, often indefinitely, because of underhand dealings between the accused and the police especially when these involve Bengalis and victims are ethnic minorities. As such, these cases hardly reach their logical conclusion because of the ineptitude and inefficiency of the investigators and the prosecutors.
It is imperative that the authorities concerned should order competent and credible inquiry into the incident in question and have the responsible individuals prosecuted efficiently and punished exemplarily.
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