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Dhaka Tribune

Anti-rape protesters threaten tougher movement

Government cannot avoid responsibility for rapes, many of which were committed by leaders and activists of the ruling party, says ex-Ducsu VP Nur

Update : 09 Oct 2020, 05:38 PM

Vowing to continue the demonstrations over the recent surge in rapes and violence against women in Bangladesh, protesters on Friday threatened to go for a tougher movement.

The call came from a mass rally held as part of the protests being held at the capital’s Shahbagh since Monday. Apart from this, other parts of the capital and the rest of the country also saw protests for the sixth consecutive day on Friday.

Leaders and activists of several left-leaning student bodies along with general students started converging before the National Museum at Shahbag at around 3:30pm.

Within the space of an hour, the Shahbagh intersection became packed with protesters shouting anti-rape slogans and demanding the trial of every rape case. They were also holding banners, placards and festoons carrying different anti-rape messages.

Under the banner of “Bangladesh Against Rapes and Lack of Justice,” the protesters demanded the resignation of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for “failing” to prevent rapes across the country.

Kamal, they said, had made bizarre comments on rape which had encouraged rapists.

Addressing a party program on September 29, the home minister, who is also an Awami League MP, said rape was not a social menace exclusive to Bangladesh as there was no country where such incidents did not happen.

Protesters giving slogans under the banner “Bangladesh Against Rapes” in Dhaka’s Shahbagh on October 9, 2020 Rajib Dhar

Also read - Govt amending law with death penalty for rapists

Waves of anti-rape demonstrations erupted across Bangladesh after video footage of five men gang-raping a housewife, stripping her naked, and filming the video of the incident in Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila, went viral on social media on Sunday.

The incident occurred at Joykrishnapur village under Eklaspur union of the upazila on September 2.

During Friday's mass rally, the leftist protesters placed several other demands, including the formation of women oppression prevention cells in line with a High Court order and ensuring legal action for sermons delivered against women at all events, including religious ones.

Samajtantrik Chhatra Front General Secretary Nasir Uddin Prince said: “We’ll wage a cultural war against rapes to eradicate this form of crime from the country.” 

His counterpart at Bangladesh Chhatra Union, Anik Roy, announced that a long march would proceed towards Begumganj upazila on October 16 if the protesters’ demands were not met by then.

“We’ll continue our protests at Shahbagh as well,” he said.

At the outset of the main protests, artistes from the country’s largest cultural platform, Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigosthi, rendered songs, which drew a huge crowd in no time.

Students started thronging in front of Shahbagh’s National Museum for the fifth day to protest rapes across the country on October 9, 2020 Rajib Dhar

Also read - Anti-rape protests continue for 4th day across Bangladesh

‘Government cannot avoid responsibility for the rapes’

In another development, leaders and activists of Bangladesh Students’ Rights Council held a rally in front of the National Press Club.

Addressing the rally, Nurul Haque Nur, a key leader of the student body, said the government could not avoid responsibility for the rapes, many of which were committed by leaders and activists of the ruling party.

“The government must resign by acknowledging the fact,” said Nur, who is former vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu).

At the same program, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna alleged that the government would not ensure justice to the rape victims.

“Police arrest opposition leaders at the earliest but show negligence in detaining the criminals backed by the ruling Awami League. The government and police help rapists flee,” he stated.

He said the government claimed to have a zero-tolerance policy towards rape but the recent surge in rape cases depicted an opposite picture.

Addressing a human chain at the same venue, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said there was no alternative to overthrowing the government to free people of the continuing rape incidents in the country.

Referring to a recent UN statement on the rape spree in Bangladesh, he said: “Nothing can be more shameful than that for a nation.”

Meanwhile, several Islamic parties staged a demonstration against rapes at Baitul Mukarram Mosque after Jummah prayers.

Outside the capital city, anti-rape protests were held in a number of districts, including Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Manikganj, Pabna, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Comilla, Feni, Gazipur, Natore, Meherpur, Tangail and Cox’s Bazar.

Besides protesting on the streets, netizens — especially women — resorted to voicing digital protests through using social media platforms to raise their voice against rape, sexual assault, harassment and torture of women.

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