The woman was also allegedly taken hostage and raped for 24 hours by the six men who have been arrested
A 21-year-old woman was allegedly held hostage and raped by six men on a moving bus in Mirsarai upazila of Chittagong last week.
All the six men, including the bus driver and his helper, have been arrested from different parts of the district, police said on Saturday.
The crime occurred in the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday morning, said Mirsarai police station OC Mujibul Rahman.
In her complaint to the police, the woman claimed that her male acquaintances took her out on Wednesday evening. The duo had boarded the bus from their native Sitakunda upazila.
However, when the bus reached the Hafiz Jute Mill area, the driver and the helper forced all passengers, except the woman and her acquaintance, to get off the vehicle. Subsequently, the duo, along with four others, took turns to rape her.
The woman's ordeal did not end there. She was forcibly taken to a house in the upazila later and raped over the next 24 hours, according to the complaint.
Following her complaint, police started a case and arrested the six men from different parts of Sitakunda and Mirsarai upazilas, and Chittagong city on Friday night.
Police identified the arrestees as Ashraful Islam, 23, Shahadat Hossain, 19, Nizamuddin Rana, 20, Belal Hossain, 23, Mohammad Ismail, 31, and Mohammad Sagar Hossain, 22.
The woman, a readymade garment factory worker, was sent to Chittagong Medical College Hospital for a medical examination.
The district's Superintendent of Police SM Rashidul Haque said, “We have taken the case seriously and six people have been arrested in this connection."
The rape epidemic
Sexual assaults on women continue unabated in Bangladesh, even though the government introduced the death penalty for rapes last year.
A Police Headquarters report, released recently, said that 26,695 rape cases were filed across the country in the past five years.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) data shows that 1,018 children were raped last year alone, but only 683 police cases had been filed. Also, 116 survivors were six years old or below.
Overall, 1,627 rape cases were reported last year and 53 of the women were killed by the perpetrators while 14 took their own lives, as per the data.
However, ASK's data is just the tip of the iceberg, according to aid agencies, who report that most women are too afraid to report rape.
In October 2020, the country was rocked by protests after a woman was attacked and raped in Noakhali.
In November last year, Bangladesh introduced capital punishment for rape, following days of protests against sexual violence against women in several cities across the country.
But human rights organisations say the move will not solve the country's rape crisis, as the survivors of the heinous crime are often stigmatised in society.