Earlier, there were horrific incidents of rape and murder on moving bus, but no one heard about raping women in a passenger-packed bus.

After only four days elapsed since the incident, a housewife was gang-raped on a Taqwa Paribahan coach at Sreepur of Gazipur on 6 August. The rapists threw her husband out of the bus before raping her.

Recently, a 25-year-old schoolteacher was gang-raped after she was abducted from a road in Cox’s Bazar Sadar upazila on Tuesday, according to media reports. She was going home on an easy-bike when three armed people intercepted her around 7:30 am on 19 August.

On the same day, the driver and four passengers of an easy-bike raped a fellow traveller – a housewife – at Pirganj of Thakurgaon, after intimidating her by holding a knife on the throat of her 7-year-old son.

In such an alarming situation, the country has celebrated Women Repression Prevention Day on Wednesday. Women and human rights activists began celebrating the day 27 years ago as a symbol of collective protest against rape.

On this day in 1995, a teen girl – Yasmin, 13 -- was gang-raped and killed by some policemen when she was going home in Dinajpur from Dhaka. The incident triggered massive protests across the country, including Dinajpur. Later, three policemen were executed in 2004 after being convicted in the rape case.

Assault, rape on the rise

Analysing the police headquarters data, it was found that the rape cases went up by 10 per cent this year in comparison to 2018. Some 10,408 cases were filed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act in 2018 while 38 per cent of cases were related to rape. The ratio rose to 43 per cent in 2019 and to 49 per cent in 2021. If the first seven months of the current year are taken into account, the ratio of rape case stands at 48 per cent.

The national emergency service 999 registered a sharp rise in calls seeking help over incidents of women and children repression. The authorities received a total of 11,959 calls on allegations of women and children repression until July this year. Of them, 619 calls were made with complaint of rape, 314 with rape attempt, 268 with sexual assault, 31 with rape threat, and 1,009 calls with molestation and sexual harassment.

The number of calls with the same allegations was 12,169 in 2021; 6,331 in 2020; 3,115 in 2019; and 2,292 in 2018.

Inspector Anwar Sattar, focal person (media and public relations) of the national emergency service, said the rising number of calls does not denote an increment in case of assault. The number of calls went up as people find a panacea here.

The government approved death-sentence as capital punishment for rape on 13 October, 2020 in the face of a nationwide protest against rape. The law is yet to make a significant impact among the people.

Khandaker Farzana Rahman, chairman of criminology department at Dhaka University, told Prothom Alo that many people commit incidents like rape as a means of demonstrating their power. A woman's 'chastity' is so much important in the society that some rape a woman to humiliate her socially. Besides, some people suffer from sexual perversion

She said the cases of rape will reduce if the children are treated equally in the family and the criminals are brought to book quickly.

Different levels of rape

A 22-year-old Bangladeshi woman was assaulted and gang-raped in Bengaluru of India’s Karnataka in May last year. A video footage of her assault went viral on social media.

Later, some 11 people, including seven Bangladeshis, were convicted in the rape case and the Bangladeshi ones were awarded with life-term imprisonment. Rifadul Islam alias Hridoy Babu alias Tiktok Hridoy, one of the convicts, trafficked the woman to India with false commitment of love.

After returning home, the woman was kept at the victim support centre at the Tejgaon police station premises for three days. A police official of the centre told Prothom Alo that Tiktok Hridoy got acquainted with the woman through social media and developed an affair with her with a promise of making her a Tiktok model.

Many young women fall victim to rapists in a similar fashion. The young girls easily fall into the trap of these scams due to their lack of awareness.

The victim support centre currently has 142 cases on allegations of violence against women and children. Some 44 per cent – 63 -- of the cases are related to rape while two on gang-rape.

The incident of raping a woman after snatching her from her husband in Narsingdi is one of the most discussed rape incidents in the recent days. When the couple went on an outing in Ghorashal flag station area in Narsingdi on 5 February, some youths raped the woman in turns after snatching her from the husband.

A total of 15 incidents of similar rape took place across the country between from 2017 to February 2022, according to reports carried by Prothom Alo. Besides, there are five incidents where the women were raped after tying up their children.

The 15 incidents of raping women after snatching from their husbands are almost similar in nature. The stalkers initially create a ‘trouble’ through altercation with the couple or demanding extortion from them. They gradually take the situation under their control and end up raping the woman at one stage.

Mizanur Rahman, former chairman of National Numan Rights Commission and a law department professor at Dhaka University, said rape has now reached an alarming level. Quick law enforcement and identification of the real culprits would send a strong message regarding the crime against women.

But it is seen that the women are rather blamed. It is not possible to reduce rape simply by imposing capital punishment, instead of ensuring the rule of law, he said.

Professor Rahman further said the stern action that the law enforcers are supposed to take in cases of women repression and rape is not seen. Besides, visible political will is also needed to prevent such crimes.