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Dhaka Tribune

‘Clothing is in no way the reason for sexual harassment’

Update : 31 Mar 2018, 01:38 AM

‘We lighten the crime by calling the reason mentally unstable’

Dr Zobaiyda Nasreen, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Dhaka said: “Five-year-old children are being raped. Can we really blame clothes for crimes like that? There was a time when women in this country did not even wear blouses with saris. The rate of sexual harassment was much lower back then. How can outfits be the reason behind rape then? “Women were sexually harassed during Hajj. When a child is sexually harassed, we label the criminal as mentally unstable. We make light of the crime when we do this. The enormity of such an act is lessened when the criminal is not held fully responsible. In a recent case, the Beauty rape and murder, we can clearly tell that the crime was related to power. She tried so hard but she was unable to survive in the end.”

‘Citing clothes as a cause of rape is the result of patriarchal mentality’

Bangla Tribune Chief Reporter Udisa Islam said: “While reporting on the topic of rape and its relation to clothing, I have spoken to many people. I have understood that whenever people talk about rape and clothing, it is always about women’s clothing and not men’s clothing. It is not logical to only blame outfits for rape. Many women like Nargis, Tonu and Beauty were not wearing provocative clothes. People who try to portray clothing as the main cause of rape are trying to hide the crime. This is a result of deep-rooted patriarchal mentality. “Just because a person is sexually aroused, it does not give him the right to attack anyone in sight. Restraint needs to be taught and practiced, even when a person is sexually excited they need to keep this in mind.”

‘Rape is a social disease’

Writer and human rights activist Britta Rai Dipa said: “The more we talk about clothes, the more we move away from the enormity of the crime. How are clothes to blame if anyone from infants and 70-year-old women are getting raped? Not only that, male children are getting raped too. Recently, a mentally unstable woman has given birth on the side of the road. Will we simply pass up the incidents as mental distortion, or will we pass it up as a matter of the wrong clothing?” She noted that clothes are not the reason behind rape. She said: “What is the religion of a rapist? I want the sex offenders to be punished severely. There are some influential people who work to protect these criminals. They blame the women and their clothes. If rapists were severely punished; potential offenders would not commit the heinous act in fear of punishment. But that is not the case in this country. Rape is a social disease here. The rate of sexual harassment is increasing day by day. ”

‘There are reasons behind sexual harassment other than inappropriate clothing’

Hefazat-e-Islam member Mufti Shakhawat Hossain said: “The Quran clearly instructs what kind of clothes men and women are supposed to wear. According to Islamic Sharia law, dressing modestly is mandatory. There is a reason for that. Men and women feel attracted to each other, it’s a natural thing. There is a connection between harassment and lack of modest clothing. But I admit that is not the only reason. There are other reasons behind these incidents.” He further said: “It is not true that clothes are the only reason behind incidents of sexual harassment. People get influenced by pornographic content. They forget all moral and religious teachings and attack a woman in their abnormal state of mind. People must prevent such a state of mind by restraining themselves. The trend of rape will come down if men are not driven to be excited. The clothing that women wear comes into play here. Women should not wear clothes that invoke sexual excitement. “Islam says that people who cannot control themselves and harm others will be punished in the afterlife. People who have trouble restraining themselves are helped and shown the right way. We advise them to pray and give them guidance.”

‘We are sexualizing rape instead of criminalizing it’

Professor Dr Tajul Islam of National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital said: “We should be criminalizing the act of rape, instead we are sexualizing it. Women are not being treated as human beings, but as sexual products. It has been established in our society that every women is a sexual object and we feel attracted to them. This is not a sign of mental instability, this is widespread distasteful behaviour. Can no one control their urges? You have the urge and you simply go ahead and assault a person. What is the point of all this modern education and moral teaching if people are inclined to behave this way?” He further said: “Many studies done in the West has revealed that clothes are not the cause of rape; it is a matter of mentality. Not every man is a rapist. A special type of people commit crimes like this. We have established civilization; we are not cave dwellers and forest dwellers anymore. There was a time on this planet when morals did not exist. The modern times are not like that. Not only this, but can a truly religious person commit a crime like rape?”

‘The offenders are rarely punished’

A teacher of New Earth Kindergarten and cyclist Salma Akhter Runi said: “My personal belief is that, the sexual offenders frequently commit such crimes. It is part of their nature. The clothes a person is wearing is not the reason why these people sexually harass women. I admit that clothes play a role here, but not so much that we can absolve the criminal by blaming the victim’s outfit. We have a tendency of doing that. If clothes were the only reason for these occurrences, then the actresses who work in the media would constantly be harassed. Actresses from Hollywood and Bollywood would be frequently raped and molested.” She said at the round table discussion that lack of punishment is one of the major causes behind the increase in rape and sexual harassment. “How many rapists have been punished as of now? Has anyone been punished according to the Bangladeshi law? Has anyone been punished according to the Islamic law? Rapists roam free and celebrate themselves while the women they harassed live in fear and suffering. “I strongly believe the education system should introduce topics such as protesting sexual harassment, education on sex as well as moral teachings.”
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