Bangladesh sees sharp rise of sexual violence

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 00:09, Mar 08,2020 | Updated: 01:00, Mar 08,2020


Violence against women saw a sharp rise in the last two months as 230 cases of rape were reported while the statistics indicates that from 2018 onwards the rate of severe incidents such as rape, gang-rape, and killing after rape increased unabatedly in Bangladesh.

Woman rights organisations, after taking into account an updated statistics, said that since its significant rise in 2018, violence against women continues at an alarming rate in year 2020.

These violent incidents are linked with social, legal and political failures, they observed.

The woman rights activists found that the culture of impunity, practice of illegal use of power, lack of accountability of concerned agencies and decay of social values were the reasons behind such drastic increase in violence against woman.

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad in 29 days of February recorded 114 incidents of rape including 24 gang-rapes. Of them, nine victims were killed after rape. In February 2019, total 88 such incidents were recorded.

In January, the women rights organisation recorded 116 rape incidents including 20 gang-rapes across the country by monitoring 14 national newspapers. In January 2019, a total 79 incidents were recorded.

The real number of sexual abuse was much higher than the statistics as most of the incidents of severe sexual violation kept under wraps and are not recorded, said BMP general secretary Maleka Banu.

Compared to 2018, sexual violation doubled in 2019.

At least 1,703 incidents of rape, gang-rape and killing after rape were recorded in 2019 while it was 942 in 12 months of 2018, according to the Mahila Parishad report.

However, human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra reported that 1,413 women were raped in 2019, it was 732 in 2018.

Human rights activists said that other forms of oppression on women are also being perpetuated using the ancient issues including fatwa, forceful marriage, child marriage and dowry while new means of oppression were invented in the current society.

Maleka Banu said that the rule of law, real empowerment of women and women-friendly infrastructure development might be useful in reducing the violence against women.

Amid this aggravating situation, Bangladesh is observing the International Women’s Day in a festive mood.

Rights campaigners said that observation of International Women’s Day stand meaningless when violence on women was increasing in the county unabatedly.

Women and Children Affairs secretary Kazi Rowshan Akhter denied making any comment while she was asked about the aim of observing the day considering the prevailing scenario.

Criminology department chairman of Dhaka University Khandaker Farzana Rahman told New Age on Friday that crimes against women, specially incidents of sexual harassment was increasing in Bangladesh for multi-dimensional reasons, among which impunity was the main reason.

‘We have exemplary laws against woman violation but not examples of punishment meted out to the perpetrators,’ she said, adding that impunity encouraged the perpetrators for repeating their crimes.

She criticised the prevailing criminal justice system and lack of political will to stop gender-based violence.

She demanded implementation of the laws strictly to reduce the crimes as maximum 3 per cent of the accused were convicted under the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000 and only 1 per cent in Acid Crime Prevention Acts 2002.

She also asked the government to take measures to change social attitude towards women starting from the level of the family.

Naripokkho, a women rights organisation, member Kamrun Nahar said that an anti-women attitude has been prevailing in the society where many people consider women as useless, not human being.

She said that in a recent survey on 35 convicted felons, Naripokkho found that they have no guilty feeling over the crimes they had committed. Rather they showed a tendency to verbally defend their crimes, she added.

‘We should work more towards bringing a change to the social norms and values,’ she said.

She asked the government to empower the ministry of women and children affairs so that they could function in their respective fields with ease and in increasing number.

Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha executive director Rokeya Kabir said that rape and other violence against women was increasing as a huge number of women went out of their homes and got involved in economic activities but infrastructure could not ensure their safety.

‘Women empowerment, rule of law and changing social attitude towards women are urgently needed to overcome the situation,’ she said.

She said that a cultural, educational, social, political and administrative reformation was needed to change the prevailing aggressive mentality in treatment of women.

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