How powerful protests all over the country compelled Bangladesh Government to introduce death penalty for rape

Citizens were enraged at the authorities' failures to tackle the endemic problem of sexual assault and rape in Bangladesh.

1

After several high-profile sexual assaults in the country, Bangladesh’s citizens are full of rage. The people have initiated a wave of protests across the country, which are urging the Government to make a huge decision to eliminate the threat of rape in Bangladesh.

On Monday, cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam stated:

The cabinet has approved a bill ruling that anyone convicted of rape would be punished with death or rigorous imprisonment for life.

According to the law and justice minister, Anisul Huq, the death penalty amendment to the women and children repression prevention bill, which currently stipulates a maximum life sentence for rape cases, will be put into effect on Tuesday.

The colossal death penalty decision followed the most recent string of sexual assaults that surfaced in the country.

Number 1

A group of men in the south-eastern Noakhali district gang-raped a young woman, recorded the sexual assault, and posted it online to blackmail and shame the victim. The eight culprits in connection with the case were soon arrested.

Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, the south Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said:

This alarming viral footage demonstrates the shocking violence that Bangladeshi women are routinely being subjected to. In most of these cases, the justice system fails to hold the perpetrators responsible.

Number 2

Several members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the governing party, gang-raped a woman in Sylhet’s northern town.

All these cases led to an eruption of protests in Dhaka and other cities. Citizens were enraged at the authorities’ failures to tackle the endemic problem of sexual assault and rape in Bangladesh. Many protesters carried placards bearing messages such as:

Hang the rapists and No mercy to rapists.

Amnesty International pointed out:

The issue in Bangladesh is not the severity of punishment for rape, but the courts’ failure to bring convictions in rape cases and the victims’ fear of coming forward.

According to Naripokkho, a women’s rights organization, only five out of 4,372 cases resulted in a conviction between 2011 and 2018. Overall, only 3.56% of cases filed have ended up in court, and only 0.37% have resulted in convictions.

The problem is frightening, as rape cases in Bangladesh only seem to be increasing. Ain-o-Salish Kendra, a human rights organization, reports that between January and September 2020, at least 975 rape cases were reported in Bangladesh, including 208 gang rapes.

Last week, the UN released a statement to express its concern, stating that:

The recent case of the woman from Noakhali that was circulated through social media has again underlined the state of social, behavioral, and structural misogyny. Urgent reform is needed to improve the criminal justice system to support and protect victims and witnesses and speed up the slow trial process.

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