The murder of 14-year-old schoolgirl Suraiya Akter Risha is a grim reminder of how unsafe our streets continue to be for young women, and of the dangerous prevalence of stalking and sexual harassment in our society.
Risha was stabbed by an unidentified youth on the Kakrail footbridge on her way home from school. It is alleged that a young man who worked at a local tailoring shop obtained her phone number and address when she gave it to the shop. After Risha changed her phone number, the young man, Obaidul, physically intercepted her on the road.
The case of Risha shows how sexual harassment and stalking can spiral out of control with devastating and tragic consequences. We, as a society, need to do a better job of taking harassment against women and girls more seriously.
It is imperative that Risha’s killer be brought to book immediately to send a strong message. We demand justice for Risha -- crimes of this nature should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It is good news that yesterday police declared that the killer would be arrested within 48 hours. Let’s hope this happens.
While most attention is given to rape and other violent crime, we cannot ignore other forms non-physical harassment, as they are often warning signs of things to come. The majority of female school students claim they have been subject to harassment, and it is a large factor behind girls dropping out of school.
We need our law enforcement to step up and catch Risha’s killer without delay. That is the first step towards making our streets safer for everyone else.