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The scourge of sexual violence

  • Published at 11:57 pm January 10th, 2019
Photo: BIGSTOCK
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Why would women feel safe about reporting cases of rape and sexual violence when a toxic attitude prevails within law enforcement as well as larger society?

To say that sexual violence is a problem in our country would, at this point, be calling water wet -- it is the ugliest of realities, one that continues to be a black mark against all the positives the country has achieved in recent years.

While 2018 finally saw the abolishment of the barbaric and archaic “two finger test,” it is nothing more than the first of many steps that need to be taken in order to give women in Bangladesh any form of hope that they will see justice.

Too often, we have spoken about the need for a change in mentality or attitude, but unfortunately -- after close to a thousand reported cases of rape against women and children in 2018 -- that is simply not enough.

According to a 2013 United Nations study on men and violence, less than 5% of rape perpetrators in Bangladesh ever face any sort of legal consequences for their actions -- a truly horrifying number in itself, until we remember that only a fraction of rapes committed end up being reported in the first place. 

Additionally, the same study states that 89.2% of urban Bangladeshi men who were surveyed agreed or strongly agreed to the statement “if a woman does not physically fight back, it is not rape.”

And the above scenario presents some disturbing questions: Why would women feel safe about reporting cases of rape and sexual violence when a toxic attitude prevails within law enforcement as well as larger society?

It is time for thorough and widespread reforms, with female police officers to take down reports, and special training on how to deal with rape cases, with the sensitivity that is needed.

Our failure to do so would be shameful in this day and age.