353Published on October 14, 2020
Pranab Kumar Panday:
The news of rape and abuse against women has generated horror and anguish among the countrymen over the last few weeks. It is well-known that these incidents occur in our country very frequently. But due to the activism of social media, the news of these incidents is becoming public. In certain cases, it helps the abused or raped woman receive justice through the execution of the perpetrators. It is good that social, print and electronic media are drawing the attention of the responsible authorities on these incidents.
The violence recently perpetrated in Noakhali has touched the conscience of the countrymen. It was horrible to think about the brutality of the perpetrators against a middle-aged woman. They not only tortured the woman but also recorded the video as a mechanism to blackmail her to ensure that they could use her at their will. After 32 days of the recording, they eventually shared the video on social media. Different types of news are being aired demonstrating that the criminal Delwar and his associates raped the lady at least twice before the incident and intimidated her not to make it public. It creates a burning at my heart when I see these people moving freely after committing such a crime.
Now one may wonder why such incidents occur in our society very frequently. The psychological disorder of a section of people in our society is the main cause. These sick people get involved in such type of immoral activity out of their psychological disorder. The second cause is the degradation of societal values in our country. As the digital age grows, our young generation remains connected with a range of devices rather than moving out, visiting their elders, and learning ethics and values from them. Therefore, a section of our young generation is becoming spoiled. The third cause is the uneven and unethical political competition in the country. Politicians, once gained power and position, build a group of musclemen, who perform illegal activities on their leaders' behalf. As a result of getting access to money, drugs, and power a segment of our young generation begins unethical practices including rape.
After the Noakhali incident, the local Member of Parliament and political leaders have been trying to hide their involvement with Delwar and his associates. Through different social, print and electronic media, it has been pointed out that the dominance of Delwar and his associates was an open secret in the locality. Everyone knew it but no one talked about them. Indeed, ordinary citizens do not dare to raise their voices against these offenders. But I do not want to believe that the news of their atrocities and dominance was not known to the law enforcement agencies and politicians. They did not take any action against them as they might have used them to manipulate many things earlier. Since the news of their brutality has become public all these politicians have been seeking their punishment. If they would have taken action before such an incident might not have happened.
The fourth cause is related to social stigma and taboo associated with sexuality. The key explanation for this is how the issue is presented to the children at an early age. The children get a message that reminds them to remain careful about the issue and not to get in touch with the opposite gender before marriage. Therefore, as children begin to reach the teens, they start getting interested in this. At the school, the students are not given orientation about different aspects of sexuality. Conversely, the situation of the developed society is different than our situation as they orient their children with these concepts once they start their secondary education. Therefore, they take these issues to be quite normal. It does not mean that the incident of rape is not taking place in the developed world. But the intensity is very low there. On the other hand due to the lack of proper orientation, our younger generation is committing many mistakes by getting involved in such illegal activities. This does not mean that the young generation alone is committing such crimes. Such crimes by elderly people are highly intensive. These people are psychologically sick.
We all know that the present government under Sheikh Hasina has been working very intensively to transform Bangladesh from a bottomless basket to an emerging economy. The reputation of the government is destroyed by such events. Therefore, the government should take the necessary initiative to provide capital punishment to all rapists. It can also consider forming a speedy tribunal to adjudicate the rape incident.
Meanwhile, there had been demonstrations throughout the country in demand to amend the existing legal framework to enforce the death penalty for the rapists following two incidents of gang rape in the last two weeks – one at the MC college hostel, Sylhet, and the other in the Noakhali district. It is encouraging to know that sensing the mentality and showing respect to people’s demand the government has promulgated an ordinance introducing the death penalty into existing law through amendment following the instruction of the Prime Minister. Prime Minister deserves appreciation for reacting quickly to the peoples' demand. However, we need to bear in mind that the amendment does not guarantee justice for the victims as there is a saying that justice delayed is justice denied. Therefore, the government should also ensure that rapists are punished within the shortest possible time.
To reduce the incidents of rape in the country, we should integrate the issue of sexuality in our secondary curriculum. We should not feel shame to discuss this issue with our students. Even the parents should orient their children with this issue during their childhood. Of course, it will take some time to get started. But, once it will be started, we will be able to overcome the taboos associated with sexuality. Even, we should design our curriculum in such a manner that it helps to change the outlook of the people in society about women. In our country, many consider women as a piece of amusement. Therefore, until we would be able to come out from such feelings, it would be very difficult to stop the incident of rape in society.
The ruling party must also take the issue into cognizance as most of the offenders take shelter to politicians and law enforcement agencies in the banner of the ruling party. Therefore, they should also consider taking immediate actions against infiltrators and people with an immoral mindset in the party. I strongly believe that if someone believes in the ideology of the father of the nation, he cannot commit a crime of this type. These have exceptions because the problem has a close link with the physiological state of the individual. Therefore, along with changes in the legal system awareness needs to be created among the people in society. If people start raising their voices against these criminals, others would certainly think twice before committing such a crime again. The collective efforts of people and the government could help reduce the incidence of rape in the country.
Writer: Professor of Public Administration and an Additional Director of the Institutional Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) at the University of Rajshahi.