• Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 08:52 am

Flouting privacy rights

  • Published at 06:45 pm May 25th, 2017
  • Last updated at 07:09 pm May 25th, 2017
Flouting privacy rights

Bangladesh’s notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided a gathering in Dhaka on May 19, arrested 28 men, paraded them in front of the media while saying they were gay, and accused them of drug possession.

Apparently tipped off by a resident near the venue where the group had gathered regularly in recent months, RAB officers abused their authority to humiliate the men -- a flagrant privacy rights violation for an already-vulnerable minority.

While the government has taken some steps -- like recognising a legal third gender category -- sexual and gender minorities in Bangladesh are under constant pressure.

“Carnal intercourse against the order of nature” carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

In 2015, a Bangladeshi LGBT rights organisation said that “visibility can be life-threatening.”

Even discreet activism can attract unwanted attention, which is made even riskier as the authorities have repeatedly failed to stand up for freedom of expression.

The brutal murders of two leading, visible Bangladeshi gay rights activists a year ago foregrounded the extreme vulnerability of the entire community.

Even discreet activism can attract unwanted attention, which is made even riskier as the authorities have repeatedly failed to stand up for freedom of expression

Bangladesh’s National Human Rights Commission has documented physical and sexual assaults on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people by the police.

At a United Nations review, the government accepted a recommendation to enhance police training around serving women and children, but rejected a call to protect LGBT people, saying “sexual orientation is not an issue in Bangladesh.”

RAB, an elite counter-terrorism unit that has operated since 2004, has a well-earned reputation for human rights abuses. While the police did not file sodomy charges against these individuals, RAB’s choice to publicly accuse the men of homosexuality, placing them at risk of humiliation or violent attack, is dangerous and unwarranted.

But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has remained silent after this incident.

“What both law enforcement and the media have forgotten is that they are complicit in upholding the colonial legacy of criminalising and stigmatising diverse sexual and gender identities and expressions,” a Bangladeshi LGBT organisation that asked not to be named said of the incident.

RAB has since handed over the 28 to the police or courts, but they all remain in custody.

The authorities dealing with the 28 detainees now should respect their fundamental rights -- including their right to privacy.

Kyle Knight is a researcher in the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail