Arif Sohel and Kazi Mehdi Hasan marched from Dhaka to Sylhet in protest against rape. They stand at the Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar on Saturday.
Arif Sohel and Kazi Mehdi Hasan marched from Dhaka to Sylhet in protest against rape. They stand at the Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar on Saturday.Prothom Alo

Two young men, wrapped in flags of Bangladesh, stood at the Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar on Saturday noon, carry placards against rape. One placard called for the people to unite against rape and the other stated 'Dhaka-Sylhet march against rape.'

The two students marched a distance of almost 250km on foot, from Dhaka to Sylhet, protesting against the Sylhet MC College hostel incident where a man was held hostage while his wife was raped.

The two protestors are Arif Sohel, second year student of international relations at Jahangirnagar University and Kazi Mehdi Hasan, second year student of English literature at the University of Asia Pacific (UAP).

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People in remote areas still saw the victims as responsible for the rape and ostracized the families of the rape victims. They (Arif and Mehdi) tried to explain that it was not the victim, but the perpetrator that must be ostracized.

Arif and Mehdi said that they were alarmed by the MC College incident and leant that a protest rally was being held in Sylhet. They wanted to join it and planned to march there on foot and speak to the people along the way, spreading the message against rape.

They began their March on 4 October from in front of the Jatiya Press Club. They crossed Narsingdi, Bhairab, Brahmanbaria, Madhabpur, Putijuri and reached Lalabazar at 10am Saturday. They spoke to people during their march and also joined in the human chains, rallies and meetings organised by the protesting public.

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Arif said, "Everyone supported our march and assisted us. The people along the way extended their hospitality. That gave us the chance to interact with people from all walks of life. We tried to spread the message against rape."

He said they also tried to correct certain misunderstandings. People in remote areas still saw the victims as responsible for the rape and ostracized the families of the rape victims. Many blamed rape on the manner in which women dressed. They tried to explain that it was not the victim, but the perpetrator that must be ostracized.

Mehdi said, they walked during the day and stayed at hotels at night. They spent six nights on the road before they reached Sylhet. On Saturday afternoon they will join the protest rally organised by students at the MC College. They will head back to Dhaka on Sunday morning.