Considering attitude of the police, prosecutors and media in Bangladesh, it seems that rape is just another minor crime here, though it is a punishable offence amounting to maximum death penalty. It implies that the incidents of sexual assault and harassment on the streets,public gatherings and educational institutions are more negligible.
Majority people in the Bangladesh societies, both educated and illiterate, tend to slam the victims for such offence terming them sluts, mainly for going outside alone or doing job from where they have to return after the sunsets.
However, the incidents of child rape are frequent too! In such cases, the women-haters blame some psychopaths.
Applaud the policymakers and the government agencies concerned for their reluctance in addressing the factors of rape and sexual harassment — culture of impunity, delay in investigation, pressing flawed charges, embarrassing medical tests and social stigma.
We see women and pro-women men taking to the streets against rapists across the world, including recently in India; but such movement or mere protests are absent in Dhaka, the capital city believed to be home of the most progressive people of the country.
The role of social watchdog, newspapers and TV channels, is also questionable. They are reluctant to treat the rape incidents properly while reporters do not feel interested to follow the incidents.
Let’s talk about the recent gruesome incident of gang rape of a garment worker in Narayanganj took place on May 11 night.
She was returning home on a bus from her workplace at Araihajar of Narayanganj, an industrial district near Dhaka. She fell into deep sleep, apparently out of tiredness. As all other passengers got down from the bus, driver Chandu Mia, his helper Rubel and two others raped the girl in the bus until it was dawn.
She was left beside the road in the morning unconscious, caused from massive bleeding.
Later she managed to inform her family over the phone and was admitted to Araihajar Upazila Health Complex.
At noon on May 12, family members of the victim informed police about the incident. The same day, locals of Dhondhi caught Rubel, who hails from Gaborpur of Araihajar, gave him a good beating and handed him over to the police.
The three other rapists have since been on the run.
When contacted on May 14, Sonargaon OC Kamrul Islam said they could not arrest the trio, but drives were under way.
An inspector of the police station on May 17 made the same comments when I contacted him.
Rape of garment workers in Naryanganj, Savar and Gazipur industrial areas is a commonplace, thanks to reluctance of the inefficient police officials concerned.
In Savar, two bus workers — driver Dipu and helper Kashem — were arrested over the gang rape of a garment worker on a running bus on Dhaka-Aricha Highway on January 24, 2013 — only a month the New Delhi gang rape that created huge criticisms at home and abroad.
That 19-year-old girl herself lodged a case against the driver and the helper under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.
The duo were sentenced to life-term jail on February 24, 2014 — after a rarely fast proceedings in the case.
In another shocking incident in 2014, two minor girls aged 13 and 14 were raped by driver of a Labbaik Poribahan bus and his associates.
Driver Ahmed Sheikh, who was kept at Demra Police Station lock-up, described to this correspondent in horrifying detail how they had cunningly taken advantage of the girls’ gullibility and inflicted on them the nightmarish ordeal.
“The girls were going to Savar to stay out the night at the house of an aunt of one of the girls. When we reached Savar, we emptied our passenger load but told the girls they had not reached their destination yet,” said Ahmed.
“And then we turned the bus back. When we came to Gulistan, we told the girls that the bus would not be going to Savar anymore. We offered to drop them off in a CNG. But we actually were planning to take them to our office,” he went on.
It was around 11:00 at night and the girls had no choice but to accept the offer.
Instead of going to Savar, the CNG auto-rickshaw brought the girls along with the bus driver and his assistant to the Kamalapur office of Labbaik Paribahan.
The office was located on the third floor of a five-story building known as the Singer building, opposite the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Kamalapur Railway Station right on the main road. Showrooms of Singer Electronics are on the ground, private offices on the second while the third floor is shared by the Labbaik office and a residential unit.
“We brought them to our office and asked them to keep quiet and told them that we would take them home in the morning,” Ahmed went on. The girls were too scared and helpless to not comply.
They sneaked the girls into the building while the watchman, who guards a number of other business outlets lined up on the road, was away, and took them upstairs to their office where three more of their staff lying in wait.
Then, four of them took their turns raping the girls, while the other watched.
Around 4:00am in the morning, guard Humayun Chowdhury suddenly saw a crying girl come towards him.
When The Daily Star asked them why they had committed such a heinous crime, the rapists replied nonchalantly, “Because they were alone.”