At least 29 people died and five committed suicide after being raped
The recent series of rapes amid the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked widespread controversy across Bangladesh.
A total of 632 rape incidents took place between April and August this year, according to statistics compiled by the human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra from various media reports.
It means on average, four women have been raped every day in the last five months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, there have been 142 incidents of attempted rape during the same time frame. At least 29 people died and five committed suicide after being raped.
Apart from familial, social, political and moral degradation, such crimes are on the rise as no section of society is fulfilling its responsibilities properly, said experts.
People have been confined to their homes for a long time due to the coronavirus pandemic and many have lost their jobs.
The experts opined that in such a situation, such callous instincts can be noted in many people. However, they believe that social control is more effective than legal control in preventing these crimes.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said: “No one is spared in such cases; law enforcement agencies take action against them.”
The recent gang rape of a housewife at Sylhet’s MC College dormitory triggered countrywide criticism. Law enforcers are concerned about the situation even though they have arrested several people in connection with the incident.
Sadeka Halim, acting dean of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, told Dhaka Tribune: “Rapes occur due to social, political, economic and legal reasons.
“Families are trying to protect the girls but the state’s utter failure is evident.”
She continued: “Those who have animal instincts — some of them do these things [rape] knowing they’ll get impunity as they are involved in politics.”
They know the politicians they work for will save them, she added.
Sadeka Halim put emphasis on political commitment as a solution. “Political leaders issue warnings and give assurances of strict action. But empty promises won’t do the trick.”
Lack of justice
Several rapes were reported in various places across the country in the last one week. Even a mentally challenged woman was not spared. Most of these cases have been gang rapes.
Human rights activists are blaming the absence of justice for this situation.
Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation Chief Executive Officer Advocate Alena Khan said: “Women used to feel safe in the company of their husbands, fathers or other family members.
“But recent incidents have shown that women aren’t safe even when they go out with their family members. The state must pay attention to these issues.”
“As we have said before, rape or violence against women is not decreasing, due to the lack of justice,” she added.
Alena said: “The people who are involved in such crimes even amid a pandemic — I really don’t know what to say about them.
“Along with continuing the fight against the coronavirus, the law enforcement agencies have to stay vigilant in curbing such crimes.”
On September 20, at a house in Mirpur’s Pallabi area, a woman was allegedly raped by her 65-year-old father-in-law. The woman called 999 to seek help; her father-in-law confessed to the crime after he was detained by the police.
In the early hours of Friday, a man reportedly raped a woman after promising her that he would find blood for her dying husband. The accused was helped in committing this heinous crime by another woman. Both of them were later arrested by police.
Social solution for a social problem?
According to Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), 184 rape cases have been recorded in the last five months in the Dhaka Metropolitan area. Of them, 12 rape cases were filed in April, 15 in May, 46 in June, 53 July, and 58 in August. The surge in rape cases in every month is evident.
Asked about the issue, DMP Deputy Commissioner (media) Walid Hossain said: “Rape cannot be called a law and order problem, it’s a social problem.”
Police give priority to rape cases, he added.
The police official also said: “The rape cases are supervised by superintendents of police (SP); there is no scope for negligence.”
Professor at Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University’s Department of Criminology and Police Science Dr Omar Faruk said: “In criminology, social control is more effective than legal control.”
The main reason for the increase or occurrence of such crimes is negligence in fulfilling one’s responsibilities, the professor added. “No section of society — family, neighbours, or school, college, and university — is performing its duties properly.”
People were living in an uncontrolled state and society, he said, adding that in a capitalist society, being a good human being was somewhat neglected.
Prof Faruk further said: “Society and the state have to create a healthy system to get rid of all this. In addition to healthy recreation, one must keep oneself busy. Every person should be more focused on his own work.”
“The law enforcers must treat every issue with seriousness, not only the sensational ones,” he added.