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Dhaka Tribune

Countrywide anti-rape demonstrations rage into Day 7

Government to sit on Monday to amend existing law, bring in death penalty for rapists 

Update : 11 Oct 2020, 09:58 PM

With protests against the sudden rise in the number of countrywide rapes and incidents of violence against women, raging into day eight, the government is all set to once again amend the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 -- last amended in 2003 -- to introduce the death penalty for rapists.

People from different educational institutions, student bodies, rights organizations and several political parties were seen demonstrating in different parts of the country -- notably in Dhaka's Motijheel Shapla Chattar area, the National Press Club, and the Shahbag intersection -- demanding justice for victims and exemplary punishment for rapists, since Sunday morning.

A number of protesters, mostly leaders and activists of left leaning student bodies, started protests at Shahbagh from 4:30pm, seeking justice for rape victims and a strict law against rape, and the speedy trial of rape cases.

The protesters demanded dedicated courts to deal with rape cases, and the death penalty, for rapists.

They also demanded the resignation of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for “failing” to prevent rape across the country. They said they would continue their protests until their demands were met. 

They organized an anti-rape photography exhibition on Sunday. They are expected to hold a cultural event on Monday, a film festival tomorrow, a women’s rally on Wednesday, and a cycle rally on Thursday, to create awareness about rape and violence against women.

Muktijoddha Sangsad Sontan Command, a platform of Freedom Fighters’ children, also staged an anti-rape demonstration in Dhaka and put forward a 9-point demand, including the speedy trial of rapists.

Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (Basad) demonstrated in front of the National Press Club on Sunday amid rains.

Also, students of Motijheel High School and College and Ideal School and College, held a sit-in protest at the Shapla Chattar intersection in the capital's Motijheel area, demanding punishment of those involved in raping and torturing women and girls.

Several hundred students of the two institutions took to the streets around 1:30pm Sunday and demonstrated, putting up barricades on the road, said Officer-in-Charge of Motijheel police station, Monir Hossain Mollah.

Vehicular movement on roads towards Dainik Bangla, Arambagh and the Ittefaq intersections from the capital’s business hub remained suspended for nearly three hours during the protest. However, they called off their demonstration for the day and left the area around 4pm.

Students of various other institutions also took to the streets in front of the BNS Centre in Uttara at around 11:30am Sunday, demanding the highest punishment for rapists and placed a seven-point demand.

Similar protests also took place in the Pakija area of Savar in Dhaka district, where students of local schools and colleges blocked the roads, demanding capital punishment for rapists.

However, several female students of Dhaka's different schools and colleges, during a press briefing held at the Crime Reporters' Association of Bangladesh (CRAB) office in Dhaka on Sunday, demanded rigorous imprisonment until death for rapists, instead of capital punishment.

They also placed a seven-point demand to make the anti-rape protests fruitful and to ensure exemplary punishment of rapists.

They said that the law should be in favour of victims and trials should be completed within 30-60 days, depending on the nature of the case.

Our district correspondents reported that Bangladesh Chhatra Moitry's Brahmanbaria unit formed a human chain with anti-rape placards and banners in the district, while left leaning political parties staged protests against rape and violence against women in Barisal.   

Waves of anti-rape demonstrations erupted across Bangladesh last week, following the recent incidents of gang rape in Sylhet’s MC College and in Noakhali's Begumganj upazila. 

Protestors have been demanding exemplary punishment and the speedy trial of rapists.

Politicians, political parties blaming each other 

Ganosamhati Andolan and Nagarik Okkya gathered together in front of the Bangladesh Secretariat to protest rape and violence against women.

The convener of Nagarik Okkya blamed the government for the recent rape incidents, as in most such cases, he said, the perpetrators were ruling party men.

At the event, Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolan, said that inclusion of capital punishment will not be enough to stop rape. 

"The government has to ensure that each and every rape incident goes to trial and the criminals are being punished," he added.

Basad, demonstrating in front of the National Press Club on Sunday, said that rape victims are mostly girls and women of poor families, while the perpetrators are often members of the ruling party.

"That’s why there is a culture of impunity evident here," said Basad General Secretary Khalequzzaman, a central leader of the party.

Although, BNP did not bring out any ant-rape protests on Sunday, the senior joint secretary general of the party, in a virtual briefing, termed the incorporation of capital punishment for rapists by the government, as "eyewash."

He said the government is making an effort to weaken the dedicated anti-rape protests going on across the country.

However, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud termed BNP’s statement as "baseless" and said that BNP is not even popular among their own activists and members.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, after inaugurating Bangabandhu Corner at BRTC headquarters in Dhaka, said the BNP is trying to take advantage of the current situation.

"Government will support the peaceful and democratic protests against rape, but will not tolerate any violence," he warned.

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