Behind crimes against women, children

Dhaka,  Sat,  19 August 2017
Published : 07 Aug 2017, 22:06:13
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Opinion

Behind crimes against women, children

Newspaper reports lend credence to rising incidence of sex crimes against women and  children in the country. Stern steps are needed against perpetrators of such crimes, writes Rahman Jahangir
The incidence of rape and brutalities on women and girls is rising, as reported extensively in the press. The rape of a girl in Bogra, followed by shaving her head as well as of her mother, has sent shockwaves across the country. The perpetrator of the heinous crime is a leader of local unit of the Sramik League which suspended him.      

In another incident, a rapist strangled a four-year-old girl child as he failed to stop her screaming and saw her bleeding after raping her. Following his arrest, the accused told detectives the horrifying tale of how he had committed the crime before dumping the body of the minor girl in a toilet in the capital's Badda. During his interrogation, the rapist said he had enticed the girl into his room by offering chocolates and then raped her. 

Thanks to swift action by the police, the perpetrators are now in custody and criminal cases have been filed against them. But then the authorities should make sure that the criminals do not get any holes in the first information reports to go scot-free when the trials begin. After all, due punishment can only be meted out to the perpetrators of the crimes if case records are prepared without keeping any gaps. Most cases fall flat due to this. 

Most rape incidents taking place in rural areas, however, do not get publicity in the media although such cases are rampant. But then local Union Parishads and the Upazila Parishads are aware of such incidents. The government can effectively monitor such incidents regularly through these elected bodies and help bring the culprits to book. The criminals need to be extended deterrent punishment whoever they might be in terms of power and pelf after fair trial. 

Experts attribute such spurt in sex crimes to proliferation of pornographic videos on the Internet. Although Internet has struck a silent revolution in the country in the field of communication and knowledge-gathering, it has cast a shadow on the society as porno films are very easy to be seen or downloaded by students and youths in the country. Although the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had once decided to block all porno sites in Internet, it could not do so for reasons best known to the authorities. As a result, these films have enough materials to incite the perpetrators to commit crimes in their localities. The BTRC owes an explanation as to why it could not stop porno sites from the Internet.       

Access to justice still remains complicated, costly, and lengthy for women and the poor. A recent survey shows that only 2.6 per cent of the victims sought legal action after being subjected to physical violence. There is a need for ensuring speedy trials. People want to see what happens to the criminals. If an example can be set, incidents of violence will decrease. When girls are stalked, they hesitate to go to law enforcers as the police do not take the issue seriously. Educational institutions should play a more effective role in changing the attitudes and behaviour that cause gender-based violence. 

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque hit the right chord when he attributed such heinous acts to social instability and the culture of impunity. "It's necessary to immediately arrest the accused, produce them before the court, complete the investigation properly and dispose of the cases rapidly," he said in a statement. The NHRC chief said some miscreants are committing crimes like rape and violence against women under  political and administrative cover.

Quazi MH Supan, an Associate Professor of Law, University of Dhaka, says acts of cyber stalking will probably continue to be immune from legal process as the existing laws do not specifically define them and trial judges will rationally be reluctant to convict a person for acts not defined as crimes. Laws have to be amended to make those time-befitting. 

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