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ED: Getting to the root of it

  • Published at 02:15 am October 16th, 2020
sexual assault law
Photo: BIGSTOCK

It is essential that all these aspects surrounding rape and rape culture are addressed

It is time we realize that rape and sexual violence are not simply the work of twisted individual minds, but rather a result of the pervasive rape culture that exists on all societal levels in Bangladesh.

In a recent episode of Tribune Talks, titled “What Can We Do to Dismantle Rape Culture in Bangladesh?” the speakers highlighted that the current rape epidemic our country is facing cannot be tackled solely through legal reform, let alone token changes such as introducing the death penalty to appease the masses and protesters demanding justice.

Instead, what is necessary is a multifaceted approach which simultaneously reforms outdated and exclusionary laws, and tackles misogyny, victim-blaming, toxic masculinity, and the country’s culture of impunity -- all of which contribute to rape culture.

In regards to the legal system, there are several aspects which need to addressed and reformed, including laws which still do not recognize that men and transgender people can also be victims of rape, the Evidence Act which can still call a female survivor’s “character” into question, and the lack of a witness protection program which can protect those speaking up from further violence.

Barrister Sara Hossain added during the webinar: “The law reinforces ideas about gender discrimination, it reinforces misogyny, and it actually reinforces the notion that women are not necessarily entitled to equality in terms of control over their own bodies and their decisions about whether they say yes or no to sexual relationships.”

On a more societal level, it is imperative that acknowledgement of and accountability for these issues begin on a familial level, which can often be at the core of this culture of impunity. As renowned women’s rights activist Shireen Huq stated: “It is very important to talk about family and parenting. Parents are telling their daughters to shut up when she is victimized.” Furthermore, it is also important to introduce sex education in schools, focusing on the concept of consent, early on.

It is essential that all these aspects surrounding rape and rape culture are addressed, beginning at the very core, because until and unless we go about this in a holistic manner, effective and lasting change will be difficult to come by.

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