Tanu rape and murder is the latest scarce of violence against women in Bangladesh. As the social movements and social media are in rise and fall centring the issue 'Justice for Tanu', suddenly a facebook post shakes the mind of the people of Bangladesh again. A teenage girl (approximately 13 years aged) of Rajshahi was demonstrating alone with a placard at one of the populous traffic centres of the city. The girl wrote 'No one killed Tanu' in her placard and was standing on a road-island during noon despite of the hottest weather of Rajshahi. Before analyzing her comment it is inevitable to discuss briefly about the post Tanu rape and murder situation highlighting the role of institutional structure, media (both public- print, electronic- and social), social movements in Bangladesh against violence against women.
Sohagi Jahan Tanu, 19, a second year history student of Comilla Victoria College and also a member of Victoria College Theatre, went missing on March 20, hours after she had gone out of her house at Comilla Mainamati Cantonment for private tuition. Later, Tanu's father Yaar Hossain found his daughter lying senseless with severe injuries in her body in a bush adjacent to their house. She was then whisked off to Combined Military Hospital where doctors declared her dead. In the first post-mortem no sign of rape was found. Also the police could not make any headway in the investigation and none was arrested yet. Even the CID questioned several army personnel though their involvement in this case is still not clear due to the lack of publication of the investigation report. Both public and social media are playing a progressive role in this issue. Already the progressive political, social as well as cultural organizations and groups organized demonstrations and strikes by demanding justice for Tanu.
Almost forty days have been passed without any considerable result and the socio-cultural movements centring Tanu murder are drowsing day by day. In the meantime the girl of Rajshahi demonstrated her anger arguing that 'No one killed Tanu'. If we analyse the inner emotion of this comment then the following arguments can be drawn. First, the girl is questioning the willingness of the law enforcement and investigative agencies as well as the legal structure in regard of the case of Tanu. Secondly, she is also indicating the role of public media in a way that media focus on the recent burning issues based mass communication approaches returning their concern from the old issues. When Tanu was murdered it was a leading news and days passed it was marginalized into a corner. Then it was reported in the last page and now the issue is going to the inner pages. Also the number of writing editorials, sub-editorials and opinions is going to abroad. Thirdly, the Rajshahi girl is talking about the pending cases of violence against women, Tanu as the symbol, to be highlighted and concluded judicial proceedings as quickly as possible. Fourthly, the teenage girl is not only talking about the visible physical violence against women but also she is also sketching the growing intensity of psychological, familial, inter-personal, official, organizational, and sexual harassments against women as neo-social diseases contaminating the social as well as inter-personal fabric. Fifthly, she is just talking about the patriarchal character of the society of Bangladesh as well as the whole South Asia where a culture of violence against women having a deep rooted tradition is dominating over the centuries under the name of so called social norms and values as well as ethno-religious traditions. Sixthly, her firm question deals with the query that to what extent the institutional arrangements of the state are effective to provide security to the half of the population in the face of all forms of violence against women. Seventhly, as the psychological violence cannot be shown and explained properly so it is killing each and every moment the whole women society where the placard of the girl bears the true message of the violence against women as a firm symbol that 'No one killed Tanu' (as a symbol of the whole women society).
However, the anger of the Rajshahi girl is valid and bears messages for the state as well as the society to take effective steps in order to diminish violence against women. But the matter of satisfaction is that Bangladesh is witnessing a regime of new social movements (NSMs) where the social groups and organizations are assembling centring a set of social issues for bringing social change within the greater social structure. Now people are organizing not for capturing the state power and ensuring political interests rather for ensuring peace and stability, environmental security, justice for the greater humanity and so on. Theoretically these movements are often termed as 'new populism' or 'disorderly politics' or 'new politics' or 'non-institutional politics' or 'reformist politics' based on collective action, network society, informal networks, participatory decision-making, decentralized structure etc. The movements of social organizations, social media, cultural groups and others with regard to 'Justice for Tanu' bear a massage of growing politics where public sphere would play a key role to hold the governance accountable. Finally this new politics would bring a new dawn where micro-democracy would be the game of town and the reflection of the public opinion would be the firm foundation of the state activities. The outcome of this micro-democracy would ensure a state of gender equality and justice where the heart-breaking events like Tanu rape and murder would be a utopia.
Abu Sufian Shamrat is a researcher who writes on contemporary issues. Email: [email protected]