Eighteen eminent citizens, including academics, lawyers and rights activists, on Saturday condemned the filing of a defamation case with against a Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust female worker by a Border Guard Bangladesh official in Cox’s Bazar.
In a joint statement, they demanded demand a nutral, proper and independent investigation into the incident.
There was allegation that the BLAST worker was sexually assaulted at a BGB checkpoint at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar on October 8 and reports published on different newspapers on November 11 showed that a BGB official had lodged a defamation case against her, the statement said.
‘Lodging complaints on violence against women are noticeably lesser than the number actual incidents. At this situation, if the victim is harassed by misusing criminal laws, panic will be created among the victims and they will be discouraged in lodging complaints,’ the statement read.
The citizens demanded a proper policy for searching at checkpoints by law enforcement agencies and an institutional system to lodge allegations about searching at checkpoints.
The signatories include former advisors to the caretaker government Sultana Kamal and Rasheda K Chowdhury, Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, jurists Shahdeen Malik and ZI Khan Panna, rights activist Hamida Hossain, writer Rahnuma Ahmed, Shireen P Huq of Naripokhkho, Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman, Manusher Jonno Foundation executive director Shaheen Anam, journalist Abu Sayeed, Bangladesh Adibasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong and rights activist Md Nur Khan Liton.
The BLAST female worker complained about sexual harassment against BGB female personnel on October 8 during a search, and she got admission to the One Stop Crisis Centre in Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital with a complaint of sexual assault.
BLAST in its statement on October 13 stated that it had received an allegation of one of its female colleagues of sexual abuse at a BGB checkpoint in Teknaf on October 8.
On November 10, Cox’s Bazar senior judicial magistrate Tamanna Farah, after receiving a complaint by BGB’s nayek subedar Md Ali Molla against the female worker, asked the Teknaf police officer-in-charge to submit a report in seven working days about the incident.
According to the complaint, the BGB officer accused the female legal aid worker for defaming the image of the border security force with her ‘imaginary allegation’ of rape against BGB members, and she ‘allured’ a number of media outlets to report the incident on the basis of her statement.
The BGB estimated that with the news reports caused a damage of Tk 100 crore to the force.
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