THE number of rape is reported to have doubled in a year, with 1,370 incidents having been reported in 2019, as Bangladesh Mahila Parishad said early January, compared with 697 incidents having been reported the year before. Rights group Ain O Salish Kendra, in the end of 2019, came up with similar figures with similar observations. The report on the rights situation in 2019 says that the number of rape in 2019 was 1,413 against the figure of 732 in 2018. This highest form of violence against women, which leaves permanent scars, continues to take place and has become a perennial problem that society struggles to attend to. This has so become as the justice delivery system has left the issue unattended or poorly attended by way of delay in the investigation and trial of the crime, which in turn creates impunity for the offenders, encouraging its further commission. It is, therefore, obligatory for all relevant authorities to stop the commission of the crime, with a stringent enforcement of the laws and investigation and trial issues being tidied.
Yet what remains more worrying, and dangerous too, is the proposition that came up in the parliament on Tuesday and was supported by senior members of parliament, of the ruling party and in the opposition, which shares power with the ruling party, alike. They demanded that the law enforcement agencies should have rapists killed in ‘crossfire’ as ‘an instant action’ and that the government should amend the law to provision for death penalty for the crime of rape. They demanded that they should set a day’s sitting in the parliament for discussions on how to stop social crimes and why the incidents of rape have increased in recent times. They demanded the application of such a mode of execution, which is in most cases an extrajudicial killing, to the cases of rape drawing from its application to drug substance cases, in which 479 suspects were extrajudicially killed during the drive against narcotic substances from May 2018 to 2019. It is good to see that the lawmakers have felt, although belatedly, the need for discussions on issues of social crimes, but they should remember that there is no reason to use the word ‘social crime’ for rape that lessens the gravity of the crime. The proposition for a death penalty for the crime could be put to debate, but death penalty for murder has not significantly minimised the crime of murder. The application of extrajudicial killing as an instant action against crimes has also not been dealt with in due process of the law in cases involving drug substances, neither would it be in cases of rape, contrary to what lawmakers seek to view. By making such a proposition in the parliament, the members of parliament who make the laws stand in breach of the sanctity of the three organs of the state — the judiciary, the legislative and the executive — by trampling down the basic tenets of the law that the accused are innocent until they are proven guilty, which is for the court of law to decide, and that the accused, suspects or even hardened criminals, should get a fair chance to stand trial.
One member of parliament has said that 10 to 12 ‘crossfire’ death of rapists would decrease the number of rape incidents, But what the lawmakers fail to understand is that 10 to 12 incidents of expeditious trial rolling down to conviction on sound investigation is the natural order in justice dispensation.
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