Are we unable to ensure justice for rape victims?
The term rape originates from the Latin word "Rapere" (supine stem raptum), meaning to snatch, to grab, to carry off. Earlier, the term was applied to mean, to take away a woman by force with or without intercourse. In modern sense rape means "sexual violation". Rape or nowadays is a very common word in our media. We personally feel disappointed rather ashamed to pronounce this word which is related to an intolerable personal offence. It is a heinous crime against a woman.
As a male, it is a shame and disgrace for all of us since some culprits among us commit this heinous crime. It is our collective failure that we cannot ensure safe and honourable life for women in a society of an independent country. Every day we are to come across the news of rape, gang-rape and thereafter killing in many cases.
We are observing an increasing trend of Rape across the country in this year. A total of 17, 389 cases of rape were recorded in last four years--January, 2014 to December, 2017, of which 13,861 were women and 3,528 were children.
According to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), there had been 496 cases of rape in first six months of 2019 compared to 351 cases of rape during the same period of 2018. As per data of different organizations or working groups, only few cases of rape appear in newspaper and the rest disappears through syndicated involvement and influence of local administration, political leaders, student leaders, unknown and unseen influence of power and position. In most of the cases, victims are poor and needy, students and general workers, widows, wives those remain alone or wives of expatriates. So, out of shyness, the fear of further harassment and social stigma a victim forgets the incident and try to lead a normal life filled with mental and physical injuries, if intolerable some of them commit suicide.
The combination of crime, the lengthy police investigation, complex judicial and trial process, the culture of impunity, leniency in swift and exemplary punishment turned the rapist wild and ferocious to do the crime repeatedly. In a review of overall incidents for the last few years, police custody or jail is a safe asylum rather resort or recreational centres of the rapists in terms of free of cost food, medical and lodging beside assurance of bail and grace in punishment by advocates of name and fame.
Instead of being ashamed, they treat it as a transit in their life. Jail turned into a cradle of criminals where not only a rapist but other dangerous criminals are confined. And it is an opportunity for them all to share and enjoy their tales, adventures and cheerful moments of the heinous crime--physical injustice to woman. In course of time, everyone including the victim forgets the brutal torture, the trauma of forceful sex; and tries to lead or pretend to lead a normal life for the sake of her survival, family welfare and further personal or social harassment.
The whole nation witnessed the pathetic incident of rape and thereafter killing of Tonu, the killing of Nusrat inside madrasa premises by the cohorts of principle, the rape of house wife of Subarnachar, Noakhali, the rape and killing of Shahinoor Akhter Tania in bus, the rape of a school girl in Madaripur and thereafter throwing the victim outside through ventilator, the gang-rape of Zakia Sultana Rupa--a law student--and thereafter murder and many more incidents. The recent rape of Samia Afrin, Saima a 7 years old girl in Wari, Dhaka is also a shocking and alarming news for all of us.
Moreover, from minor to young and adult including physically challenged, nobody is safe from being sexually abused in this social circumstance. Unfortunately, the criminals somehow manage bail, escape trail and punishment in most of the cases.
The most shocking thing of this forceful repression and physical assault to a woman is that our teachers and principals of school, college and universities are involved and indulged in this heinous crime. When they find a favourable opportunity in the name of tuition, private class, lab work etc they forget their own identities. I further feel ashamed to write that many of the custodians of our religion--Imams of mosques, teachers and principals of Madrasas across the country has embraced this heinous trend of rape, forgetting the verse of the Holy Quran: And do not come near to unlawful sexual intercourse. Surely it is an obscenity and evil in the way (Verse 32 of Surah Bani Israeel).
Today, we have strong, intelligent and well trained police force, elite forces, efficient judiciary system, learned barristers and advocates. Then what is our lacking to reduce or overcome the crime of rape, gang rape and murder? Wearing an uniform or an Islamic dress or wearing a black coat, a gown and a tie does not mean the justice is ensured. Justice is a great word, a great term, a great meaning, a great sacrifice and a great character to abandon the need for unusual money, bribery and the greed for unusual wealth and prosperity.
Until we surrender to death, the common enemy, "Iblis", inside us, in our mind, in our soul tries to derail us all. We cannot achieve success to exercise impartial role and fair justice to victims unless the officials responsible are honest in their workplace and honest with themselves. Let's raise our hands and declare a war against rapist--who doesn't belongs to any family and society. We hope our policy makers will take the matter in concern and will amend the law swift and exemplary punishment to a rapist so that no one ever dare to commit this heinous crime in near future, in this country. We further hope our government will act as guardian of the women of our society by ensuring a safe, secured and respectful life for them--free of physical mental and sexual assault.
The writer is consultant, Youth Laboratories (unani)