CORRUPTION has become all pervasive not solely for the absence of laws or the absence of, or poor, enforcement of relevant laws. There are countless cases where people have started accepting corruption, by means of having been subjected to it and all its ill consequences without standing up against it, which also appear to have engendered corruption and consolidated its prevalence in society. And a major reason for the acceptance of corruption and a pervasive unwillingness not to lift a finger to stop this appears to have been systematic — any efforts to counter corruption have hardly ever worked and there is no effective grievance mitigation mechanism in place that could ensure justice without much of hassle. A BRAC University study, released at a discussion that Transparency International, Bangladesh organised in Dhaka on Thursday in view of International Right to Know Day that falls today, finds that three in every four victims of corruption are unwilling to move court to seek legal redress as they think it is useless to fight corruption, which has been an integral part of life. Only one in every 10 of the remaining victims who seek legal redress, however, says that they find some result in their pursuit of justice.
Eighty-nine per cent of the people surveyed for the study say that they have been subjected to corruption against their will at some point in their life. Sixty-seven per cent of the victims say that they have suffered financially or socially as they had to meet the demand for money in seeking public services or they had to wait for hours in cases where they were unwilling to pay bribes. And they think that politicians are mostly corrupt for which they have thrown their weight behind social movements, such as road safety movement that took place in 2018, instead of political movements. The respondents are also reported to have made complaints about private sector corruption, especially in kitchen markets where they are charged at trader’s whims. The study, which says that people in public offices demand bribes or other favours in the open, also says that 40 per cent of government officials make their demands in not so brazen a manner but 10 per cent of the deals are said to have been done privately. Sixty per cent of the corruption victims, however, believe that punishment alone cannot stop such all-pervasive corruption. And people holding such a view is reflective of a series of failures of the government.
People believe that moving court for legal redress will hardly work as it could linger the process and entail hassles. Besides, legal processes in many instances in the past may not have worked. This calls for an effective, hassle-free grievance mitigation mechanism that should mostly not require the victims to move court for redress. People believe that punishment alone cannot stop such crimes as in many cases in the past, punitive action has failed to work, presumably because the punishment may not have been deterrent enough compared with the gravity of the crime. The government also has its failure in making people aware of the redress that people can get in such cases from the legal process. The government must, therefore, act on all these issues to create a situation where people would refuse to accept corruption as part of their life and stand up against it.
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