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Police officials have said that an increase in crimes such as murder, rape, theft, mugging and robbery had been assumed. Various units of the police had been told to keep an eye out for these crimes. However, such an increase in rape of women and children hadn’t been expected.

According to the data collected by the police headquarters based on cases filed at various police stations of the country, 6,555 incidents of rape took place last year. That means there were 17 rapes a day on average in the country.

According to police records, there has been a steady increase in rape over the past few years. Some of the incidents created quite a stir in the country and the people had taken to the streets in protest

In the previous year, 2019, there had been 5,872 incidents of rape. According to police records, there has been a steady increase in rape over the past few years. Some of the incidents created quite a stir in the country and the people had taken to the streets in protest.

Over the past five years there had been an increase in child abuse too. Last year there were over 2500 incidents of child abuse. In 2019 this had stood at 2363.

Crime analysts feel that along with social degeneration, another major cause for the increase in sexual violence and rape has been pornography.

Last year there were 9733 incidents of theft in the country, 2500 of which were burglary. In 2019, this number had been 9319.

In 2020, there were 978 robbery incidents. There were also 871 muggings (cases under the speedy trial act) in the year. Mugging increased by 340 compared to the previous year and robbery by 82.

People are restricted to their homes during the pandemic, increasing their anxiety and mental stress. There has been a deterioration in the quality of life. People feel isolated. That had led to an increase in various sorts of crime
Muhammad Omar Faruk, professor of criminology and police science, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University

A number of people even died at the hands of the muggers. On 5 May miscreants in a car in from the Kamalapur BRTC bus depot in the capital, snatched the handbag of rickshaw passenger Sunita Rani. The strap of the bag had been around her shoulder and so when they snatched it, she fell out of the rickshaw onto the road and died.

All incidents of theft, mugging and robbery are not reported to the police and so if the unregistered incidents are taken into account, the numbers will be higher.

In an incident of robbery on 15 September last year, three armed robbers, wearing masks and helmets, entered the Uthali branch of Sonali Bank in Chuadanga. They held the bank manager and others hostage and made off with around Tk 900,000. There were 302 robberies last year. In the previous year there were 350.

Officer-in-charge of Siddhirganj police station in Narayanganj, Md Mashiur Rahman, feels that people have become unemployed during the pandemic. Some are driven by need to theft, robbery and drug trade. Also, with social and recreational activities coming to a halt, domestic violence has also increased. And with educational institutions closed, students are using the internet more, getting hooked onto pornography and committing rape.

While murder has not increased compared to the previous year, over 3500 murders were committed in the country in 2020. In 2019 this stood at 3653. However, there were several grisly murders during the prevalence of coronavirus. Family members and relatives were involved in these murders. Wives, children, parents and even infants were murdered. Stress, frustration and unrest during coronavirus times have led to such murders, crime experts say.

While acid violence has significantly decreased due to government and non-government efforts, last year 16 incidents of acid throwing took place. In the year before, 12 such incidents occurred.

While the government has imposed restrictions at various times during the pandemic, halting the movement of transport, drug trafficking and trading has not stopped. According to police records, there were over 73,000 narcotics related cases last year. The previous year there were around 111,000.

However, police headquarters spokesperson, deputy inspector general (DIG – media and operations) Haider Ali Khan, told Prothom Alo, “While an increase in theft, robbery and stealing was expected during the pandemic, due to the correct leadership of the prime minister and the astuteness of the IGP, the increase wasn’t that much.”

He said that with the increase in the use of IT in these times, IT-related crimes had increased or the types of crimes have changed somewhat.

According to the police headquarters’ records, there were less cases of violence against women, murder robberies, abductions, attacks on police and explosives in 2020 compared to the preceding year. A total of 187,926 cases related to all sorts of crimes were filed last year. In 2019 his number was 224,684.

Concerning the increase in certain types of crimes during the coronavirus times, professor of criminology and police science at the Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University, Muhammad Omar Faruk, told Prothom Alo that people are restricted to their homes during the pandemic, increasing their anxiety and mental stress. There has been a deterioration in the quality of life. People feel isolated. That had led to an increase in various sorts of crime.

He felt that people have less legal access during the times of coronavirus. Social security institutions have become weak. Weak state management has made people vulnerable further.

He said that in these circumstances, the matter of legal protection must be given priority and social protection must be ensured too.

* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

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