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The 'rape culture' in Bangladesh

Why and how women are becoming prey?

Published : Thursday, 16 November, 2017 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1843
Sayeed Ovi

A dysfunctional social structure lets its women to become more vulnerable. We the people talk on human capability with great dignity. In fact, how much more civilized we are even in this very era of 'modern civilization'? Our inner demons are often coming out and making catastrophes, some of those scenes we are experiencing nowadays. Patriarchic desire to dominate over women, man-made social system, rage and misogyny altogether is creating a fierce atmosphere for women in contemporary Bangladesh. Rampant rape incidents and attempts are thrilling woman community with immense fear.
Who are the malefactors?
The World Health Organization defines rape as "physically forced or otherwise coercive penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object." In a general sense, 'rape' can be defined as the act of sexual penetration against a person with that person's consent.
Professor Gordon Nagayama Hall, through his extensive work, identified four major types of rapists: (a) influenced by deviant sexual arousal, who like sadism, achieve pleasure by conducting sexual violence on others, (b) influenced by cognitive distortion or thinking errors, who think some person's like to be raped, (c) motivated by anger and emotional lose, who tend to mitigate previous anger or avenge by conducting sexual violence on others, and (d) repeat offender, who probably have past trauma and likely to have been sexually or physically abused in childhood.
Why people rape?
The proliferation of potential rapists is a sign of upcoming danger. In the context of Bangladesh, no one but women are the usual victims of sexual violence. In pursuit of physical pleasure, men often become rude to their female companions. Though the domestic sexual assault on wife perpetrated by husband is a serious crime, but in socio-cultural context of Bangladesh, the victim's wife never incriminates her husband, rather endure the agony by herself.
Sometimes, rape or any sexual harassment against women's consent is thought as a man's virility as well as 'will and ability' of dominance. But in reality, it is merely a patriarchic expression. Myths and superstitions have established its deep root in Bangladesh traditional society that undermine and thereafter endanger women in a given society.
Politics and limitations of statistics:
For a number of reasons, statistics cannot delineate a complete and proper scenario of rape violence on women in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world. Sweden is holding the record of highest (63.5 per cent) rape cases where the United States has only 27.3 per cent. But in United States, 54 per cent of rape cases are not reported.
So, here is one of the most important lacking. The laws and legal system of a country also affects the rape statistics. In Sweden, almost each and every act of rape and even domestic sexual violence as separate incidents, not as a 'case'. Definition of rape crime, women's position in society, accuracy in reporting, quality and cooperation of the law enforcement agencies, etc. are the fundamental causes that influence, motivate and misguide rape statistics.
Is Bangladesh alright?
Two main sources of information to conduct and formulate the statistics are: (a) by analyzing the contents published in the media, basically in print, (b) from law enforcement agencies and case records. Problems with the first process is almost majority number of rape stories become unpublished in newspapers, or get 'killed' due to several factors: lack of space, importance of the event, unwillingness, house policy etc.
On the second case, rape incidents are suppressed by victims and often times her family because of numerous pressures. According to Bangladesh Mohila Parishad report based on 14 dailies, the number of total rape victims was 1050 in 2016 including 166 gang rape victims which were 199 in 2015.
In contrast, total 757 rape cases have been compiled included 212 gang rapes in 2016 and the number of gang rape in 2015 was 277, according to police records. A clear gap of victim's number between these two statistics is very much evident.
Reasons of women's muteness
Ines Harcovich, a Spanish writer, identified one the prime reason behind the victims' silence over the incident, "because they fear they won't be believed." The inapt social settings, gender inequality over power and access, marginalization, domination and bondage etc. usually disqualify and demean women in Bangladesh society.
The Social position of women in Bangladesh do not let them to be outspoken, rather remain them in a fearful environment, therefore even after being raped, they prefer not to complain against the ruthless culprit, fearing possible defamation and threats posed by the perpetrators and other groups.
The inapt judicial system, lack of concentration and initiative in law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh also demotivate the rape victims not to submit an accusation.
A doctor alone can provide certain remedies for a disease in the case of a human body. To heal a social disease, no single body can do the job, rather everyone should have to come forward. The togetherness of the people is a dramatic force that can eradicate the sexual assaults on women in present Bangladesh, and indirect support on such crimes would do exactly the opposite.
In this respect, the government and law enforcement agencies need to play a crucial role -- from capturing the delinquents to punish them under perfect laws.

Sayeed Ovi is a researcher and columnist

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