Human rights activists are blaming the lack of justice for the string of crimes
A grandfather stands in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka, demanding justice for the rapist of his eight-year-old granddaughter, who stands in protest beside him.
He says a neighbour began raping the child after luring her with treats. When the incident was revealed, the perpetrator ran away.
Police failed to make any arrests a month after the case was filed, forcing them to seek justice elsewhere, he says.
Incidents of rape have been piling up over the past week in Bangladesh. In most cases, women have been gang-raped. Even children and the disabled have not been spared.
Human rights activists are blaming a lack of justice for the string of crimes.
According to the legal and rights-based organization Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK), 975 individuals were raped in the last nine months, among which 627 were children.
ASK produced the report by reviewing news published in various media sources.
According to the report, 68 children between the ages of zero and six, 139 children between the ages of eight and 12, 191 children between the ages of 13 and 18 were raped in that period. The age of the remaining 229 children were not mentioned in the report.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) Director Abdus Shahid Mahmood told Dhaka Tribune that it is easier to rape children than adults because children are unable to properly explain what was done to them.
Rapists also target children because they are unable to protest or resist them, he said.
He added that drug addiction, distorted thinking, and the will to dominate are also causes of rape.
Students from various institutions and women took to the streets in protest of these incidents across the country. Some gathered in the capital's Shahbagh area, demanding fair trials for all rape cases. Others demanded resignation of the home minister for his failure to take action.
The protestors said that rape victims cannot get justice because the powerful and the influential are involved in these incidents. Often, even the police hesitate to arrest them. The ones that do get arrested are often released on bail.
They said crimes of rape will not cease until exemplary punishment is ensured for the perpetrators. As things stand, rapists know they can get away with it.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan denied accusations of negligence and said all cases are being dealt with swiftly and the accused are being handed maximum punishment availed by the law.
According to the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), a total of 424 children were raped from January to August in 2020. Of these, 49 were cases of gang-rape.
On Tuesday, police have arrested two people in connection with a case filed for the rape of a 13-year-old girl after she was abducted in Biral upazila of Dinajpur.
On September 24, a private tutor was arrested for allegedly raping a girl who is an eight-grader in Narayanganj’s Shiddhirganj.
On September 19, a 13-year-old child was forcibly picked up in Tangail and gang-raped by three youths, two of whom are still at large.
On September 7, a 55-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raped a rickshaw puller’s daughter in Karimganj upazila of Kishoreganj.
Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation Chief Executive Officer Advocate Alena Khan said: “We do not have the right implementation of law in the country. As long as implementation of the law is weak, criminal activities like rape and harassment will continue.”
Nur Khan Liton, prominent human rights activist and former ASK executive director, said: “Law enforcement is not transparent enough. In too many cases, criminals get away with it. That is because of the involvement of political players in crimes.”
He said that it is unfortunate that political leaders are looking for conspiracies in these protests, trying to dress them up as false accusations from rival parties. This is resulting in the actual messages not getting through.
The general population also no longer trusts the state and the administration because of the existing culture of impunity added the activist.