On an average nearly 13 women and girls were raped in the country every day in the first four months of the year as rape incidents were on the rise.
Social scientists, lawyers and field level crime investigators expressed concerns over rising rape incidents and blamed slow criminal justice system, drug addiction and unemployment, among others, for the rise in the heinous crime.
According to police statistics, 20,835 cases have been filed on charge of rape since 2014.
Of the rape cases, 1,538 were filed between January 1 and April 30 in 2019 taking to 12.81 the number of rape incidents reported on an average in a day.
On an average, 10.57 rape cases were filed in a day in five years between 2014 and 2018 as the number of the filing of rape cases was 3,949 in 2018, 3,995 in 2017, 3,728 in 2016, 3,930 in 2015 and 3,695 in 2014.
Rights activists said that the actual number of rape incidents was much higher than the number of cases filed as a large number of cases of sexual violence and rape remained underreported.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum statistics media monitoring report said on May 15 that 346 children were raped in the past four months and a half.
At least 44 children were either raped or subjected to attempted rape in May 1-9, according to rights body Manusher Jonno Foundation.
In the Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva in May 2018, the Bangladesh delegation stated that the government established 54 special tribunals for speedy disposal of cases of violence against women.
The delegation told the meeting that 7,343 rape cases were filed and 1,194 cases were disposed of with conviction in 140 cases in 2013-2017.
The meeting was also told that some parents felt compelled to marry their girls off as a ‘protective measure’ against rape in Bangladeshi rural areas.
Officials in the Criminal Investigation Department and the police headquarters said that girls and women of 15-30 age group were the major victims of rape while ‘gang-rape’ in most of the cases were committed in revenge.
Recently retired additional inspector general of police Mokhlesur Rahman said that the rape incidents were the manifestation of instability in the society and there was a serious lack of moral education.
‘We are heading towards a morally bankrupt society,’ he said.
He suggested mobilising the society against rape as he found only policing was not the solution.
‘But,’ he believed, ‘mobilising society against rape is a big challenge.’
He blamed social media for generating sexual desire making sexual contents available and said that the desire in many cases was met by rape incidents.
Additional deputy inspector general of intelligence and special affairs at the police headquarters Md Moniruzzaman blamed lack of social safety network and social bolding within the community for the situation.
He said that lengthy justice delivery system and lack of family bonding also created scopes for the offenders for committing crimes.
The police official suggested more research on the social crimes so that the police investigators could get better picture of the situation.
Dhaka University social sciences dean Sadeka Halim said that delayed justice delivery, drug addiction and perversion were the major causes of the rise in rape incidents.
‘Since we could not show any example of punishment, the incidents of rape were increasing,’ she observed.
The sociology professor said that the number of rape was a matter of concern.
CID additional deputy inspector general Abdul Kahar Akand believed that most of the rapes were not committed by organised criminals rather it took place when the victim became vulnerable during her movement outside or staying in a room.
He blamed faulty investigations for the low rate of conviction in rape cases and said that the investigation into rape cases should be fair and independent.
Another CID official said that apart from delayed criminal justice delivery, unemployment and drug addictions were major reasons behind the rise in number of rapes.
Prison officials could not share the updated information over the number of rape suspects in jails but prison population statistics showed 1,009 rape suspects were detained in jails as of June 30, 2016.
According to the statistics, there were 575 convicts were serving sentences for rape as of June 30, 2016.
Criminal law practitioner Faruk Ahmed said that unemployment, drug addiction, political influence and delayed justice delivery and lack of red-light districts were the major reasons for the rising trend of rape.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics 2016-17, the unemployment rate in Bangladesh was 4.2 per cent.
Unemployment rate in Bangladesh averaged 3.85 per cent between 1991 and 2017, with the highest 5.10 per cent in 1997 and the lowest 2.20 per cent in 1991, according to Trading Economics, a New-York-based online platform giving historical data and economic forecasts.
It also said that the number of unemployed people in Bangladesh increased to 2.70 Million in 2016 from 2.60 Million in 2015.
On April 24, expressing concerns over the growing incidents of rape in the country, Jatiya Oikya Front convener Dr Kamal Hossain said the nation was in the throes of an epidemic of rape and urged people to forge a united movement to protect women’s rights and establish the rule of law.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan in the past week said that he did not think that there was any rape epidemic in the country. He said that the law enforcement agencies were working to arrest the offenders but they had nothing to do with judicial matters.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country