A number of women have been prosecuted on graft charges for illegal wealth amassed by the husband in their name, in many cases without their consent.
According to the findings of the Anti-Corruption Commission and Transparency International Bangladesh, the women face prosecution as they have signed documents following the husband’s instructions.
The commission submitted charge sheets against 14 women in the past three years for the husband’s illegal wealth amassed in their names.
During the period, the commission also filed 30 cases against 30 women on charge of possessing illegal wealth, showed ACC statistics.
According to the commission’s findings, the some of the women helped their husband to make illegal wealth while others were aware that their husband amassed illegal wealth in their name.
Commission chairman Iqbal Mahmood said that the commission was in dilemmas about whether it was appropriate to take action against the beneficiary ladies.
The commission recently suspended inquires into allegations against the wives of 118 corruption suspects pending resolution of the dilemma, he said.
He said that as the beneficiaries were not even aware that they got illegal wealth, the commission should consider the matter from a humanitarian perspective, although the law empowered it to prosecute them.
He said that the women signed the documents regarding the wealth as instructed by their husband.
The commission discussed the issue with women rights activists and found them to be equally confused as some women were even convicted of graft charges for such lack of awareness, said the commission chief.
In some incidents, commission investigators found that sons, daughters, mothers and fathers were also named in cases filed against corruption suspect family heads.
In March, a Dhaka special judge’s court jailed collapsed Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana’s mother Marjina Begum for three years in a case filed by the commission for hiding wealth information.
Commission deputy director Mahbubul Alam filed the case with Ramna police station on April 12, 2015 for submitting false wealth information.
Rana came under the ACC scanner after deadly collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013.
The Rana Plaza collapse is considered the deadliest garment-factory accident in the history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history claiming the lives of over 1,100 people and leaving 2,515 injured.
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman told New Age that the corrupt people used to amass the wealth in the name of their wife to conceal their illegal wealth.
He advised women to check the documents before signing them following the husband’s instructions.
In October 2017, the commission filed a case against the then Faridpur superintendant of police Subhash Chandra Saha and his wife Rina Chowdhury on charge of possessing illegal wealth.
According to recent TIB findings, based on cases filed between January 2007 and March 2018, the husbands of 55 per cent of women convicted of graft charges are involved in politics while 21 per cent are government officials, 10 per cent are businessmen and the rest 14 per cent are in other occupations.
According to the commission data, 29 women were convicted of graft charge for possessing illegal wealth since 2007 and 26 of them were punished for the wealth their husband amassed in their name. Most of them were jailed for three years.
Dhaka University criminology teacher Khandaker Farzana Rahman said that the relations between husband and wife and their families lived on trust.
Although a wife, as a decision making member of the family, should ask the husband about the earning to ensure safety and happiness of the family, in existing male-dominated society, women are not allowed to raise voice against the husband’s corruption or other criminal activities, she said.
The criminologist said that women rights groups and campaigners against corruption should pick the issue to create awareness in the society.
On June 5, commission deputy director Mohammad Helal Uddin Sharif filed the case with Ramna model police station filed a case against Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited general manager (accounts and finance) AKM Anwarul Islam and his wife Farida Yeasmin on charge of amassing illegal wealth of Tk 11.9 crore.
In 2015, the commission filed charge sheet against former state minister for housing and public works Abdul Mannan Khan and his wife for allegedly acquiring illegal wealth.
According to the investigations, Mannan Khan amassed illegal wealth of about Tk 2.65 crore while his wife Hasina Sultana accumulated illegal wealth of Tk 3.35 crore.
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