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Police need to learn to deal with sexual assault complaints

  • Published at 09:30 pm May 13th, 2017
  • Last updated at 07:12 pm May 14th, 2017
Police need to learn to deal with sexual assault complaints

The high-profile rape investigation that is still ongoing has touched off a national nerve.

More than anything, it has started a dialogue that should have started a long time ago, but it is better late than ever.

People are finally talking about practice of victim-blaming, a practice that is commonplace in Bangladesh but hardly ever talked about in a critical way.

Now we come to know that there is an appalling lack of facilities and due process for sexual harassment cases, even after direct instructions from Police Headquarters to set up such facilities at every single police station.

It has been well-known for quite some time now that the police in Bangladesh are generally reluctant to accept rape cases; that victims often find themselves humiliated and harassed further by those who are supposed to help them.

Police Headquarters apparently issued directives to redress the matter but it turns out that police stations across the country have failed to carry out the Headquarters’ directive on setting up separate desks for handling sexual assault or harassment cases. They also recommended that female police officers handle the case, if possible.

Although the directive is a commendable initiative, it only partially addresses the problem. It does not make sure, however, that those entrusted with enforcing the law -- our valiant police officers -- have the necessary compassion and sensitivity for the victims we are asking them to protect and to serve.

There are gender and inclusive strategists from overseas who are currently working on sensitising the immigration process for immigrant workers to the Middle East and such.

Our police officers should be required to go through a similar gender sensitivity training, for unless their attitude changes, we cannot expect this sort of egregious conduct to change.