by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka;-
The shrieking scream of the women being stripped in Noakhali district that went viral in social media brings back memories of Pakistani troops torturing or raping women in 1971. We called it the “Rape of Bangladesh.” What do we say now? It is a question that baffles us as the animal in Bengalis as seen in the Noakhali footage is something new to us.
Why not sentence a convicted rapist to “permanent impotency?” Live and suffer!
All we do is debates on illegal killings called “cross-fire,” give speeches, issue statements and write pieces, which sell well, but fade away gradually as cases rot in the judicial process and the rapists walk free on bail. Thus it is the weak law and the process which are to be blamed for unabated new attacks on women.
Although literally rape, an unlawful sexual activity involving sexual intercourse done forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will and is a worldwide problem, but it is the brutality of different cases in Bangladesh that has drawn more attention in recent days than any time before.
For me it is an act of showing power and how manly a person is as in cinemas which are so widely available along with pornography in a mobile phone.
It is estimated that approximately 35% of women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. In the majority of countries that have data available on rape report that less than 40% of women who experience sexual violence seek help. Less than 10% seek help from law enforcement, according to World Population Review.
It said that “Because many women who experience sexual violence rarely report or come forward about their incidences, exact rape numbers are challenging to report. While many countries have laws against the act of sexual assault and violence, many of them are insufficient, inconsistent, and not systematically enforced.”
Interestingly it adds that “men (also) around the world also experience sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape every day.” In Bangladesh, except those rape cases of young boys in madrassas, other are never reported. But there are such cases according to “Breaking the Silence” as I remember doing a story in the 1990s based on the organisations study.
At least 70% of rape is committed by someone the victim men or women is acquainted with.
According to Ain o Salish Kendra 975 women were raped in the first nine months of the year compared to a total of 1,413 in 2019. Of them, 208 women were gang-raped, 43 were murdered after rape and 12 victims of rape committed suicide.
Why suicide? It is the shame and social stigma that mainly leads a woman to take her own life, coupled with other factors like negative treatment by the victim’s family itself.
A fact that also needs attention is that rape cases are grossly underreported not only in Bangladesh. but also in the United States “due to victim shaming, fear of reprisal, fear of family knowing, cases not being taken seriously by law enforcement, and possible lack of prosecution for the perpetrator. 97% of rapists in the United States will walk free.
This is typical in a Muslim-majority country like Bangladesh’s and experts have spoken about the need to look at the deep, systematic dysfunction of their cultures and social norms that have not prevented and do not prevent sexual violence.
It is heartening to know that the government is considering a change in the law against rapists by ensuring the maximum death penalty from the current life term. This too will not help Bangladesh, where corruption is rampant in both the civil and police administration.
Rape cases are not murders. But killing the soul and dignity of a woman, or a man, as maybe the case of the 11-year-old madrassa boy in a recent incident that went viral too in the social media.
Importantly, medical tests immediately prove if a person has been raped or not, and semen detects the rapist by way of special laboratory tests available in Bangladesh. It is the most crucial test to prove rape by intercourse or oral. Even in an individual who has undergone a vasectomy, sperm will be absent, but the acid phosphate level will be elevated in the semen specimen of the victim’s vagina, mouth or anorectal area, according to experts.
So, it does not need a hearing in a court. But rule of law demands a verdict from the court and the demand by street protestors for a speedy special tribunal is the need of the hour.
As for punishment, a life time or death penalty is decided after a long process and gets lost in the jungle of criminal cases which has backlog making uncertain when a verdict will be given.
The Special Speedy Tribunal for rape cases will study the medical reports and if the case is true or false. The punishment should be a primitive one — making the rapist impotent for life. That is the best life in prison in an open world.
It might sound rude, but I can assure once such a law is adopted and few are punished as the new law, I guess the rapists will vanish! Save our nation from the rapists.