The elections passed more or less peacefully and it was hoped that this peace would prevail. However, ever since then, there has been one heinous crime taking place after the other all over the country.
In Noakhali, a woman was gang-raped by a group of ruling party men because she had voted for the BNP in the election. This incident stirred up anger and protest all over the country. The police arrested some of the persons involved in the rape and took them on remand. It was hoped this would prevent a repeat of such crimes. But that has not been so. News of rape incidents continues to pour in.
On Thursday news came in of four young girls being gang-raped in Feni. In a village of Karnaphuli, Chittagong, a 10-year-old girl was raped. In Sitakunda a case was filed in an attempted rape of a young girl. In Damurhuda of Chuadanga, an eighth grade girl student has stopped going to school in fear of sexual harassment. Shocking crime reports come in from Demra of the capital city. Two little girls, just 4 and 5, were killed after failed attempts to rape them.
The police has said that drugs were also involved in the Feni incident, but the other cases were direct incidents of violence against women. The incidents are not simply matters of law and order. These are spreading like a social vice. The punishment for rape is life imprisonment, but despite such a stern law, the rapes continue unabated. Former caretaker government advisor and human rights activist Sultana Kamal told Prothom Alo that a review of the last few days speak of the extent that the proclivity towards has reached.
Stringent laws are not enough to prevent such violence and crimes against women. There is need to implement these laws. Despite the deluge of such despicable crimes, one hardly hears of the criminals actually be punished. And so the criminals take to crime with an assurance of impunity in their minds.
The law must be applied, effectively and speedily, against such criminals. The criminals must be arrested as soon as the crime takes place. We believe that alongside the news of the rape incidents, if there are reports of the criminals being caught and punished, then the propensity to such violence against women may be stemmed to an extent. It is vital that each and every incident be investigated and due action taken.
Unless the rule of law is established, the criminals will get away easily. This leads to the likelihood of a steady increase in crime. Full attention must be paid to ensuring good governance and the rule of law.
In a patriarchal society as exists here, the rule of law is not enough for the overall protection of women. There is need for social strength too. Human dignity must be established regardless of gender, financial standing, religion or race. This is not up to the state alone. The social forces must unite. Not just the government, but the society as a whole must display zero tolerance towards rape. Individuals, families, localities and the entire society must consciously rise up against rape and all sorts of violence against women.