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17 October, 2020 09:26:59 PM

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Strict law is the solution?

Dr Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin
Strict law is the solution?

Incidents of various forms of violence against women, including rape, are on the rise in the country. Every day, if you keep an eye on the TV screen or the newspaper, you will see news of various forms of violence against women from different parts of the country.

Besides, there is social media. Although many feel that this is not so much a field reality, rather a reflection of the extra reporting because of an explosion in the number and quality of media in the country. However, if you take into account the annual statistics of social organizations like ‘Ain o Salish Kendra’ (ASK), you have to admit that the number and extent of crimes against women, including rape, has actually increased in recent years.
Naturally, these incidents are causing great anxiety among the people. Everyone is anxious, worried. Everyone is wondering why that is and what is the way out? Intellectuals are analyzing various aspects of the problem and pointing out what need to do. Young people, politicians and social workers are taking to the streets in meetings, processions, slogans and demonstrations. Everyone has the same statement, the same sound: The perpetrators must be arrested quickly and severely punished, the law must be tightened. Their patrons and backers must be identified. Such punishment should be introduced and executed that will be an example for others.
If you look at the evolution of human civilization, from time immemorial, women have been the victims of oppression in human society in different forms in different societies and countries. At home and outside, on the road, in the workplace - where not? They have been one of the simplest targets of perverted lust of the 'victorious heroes' in war. The throne of God has trembled again and again by the moan and cry of oppressed women. What's their offence? These are the ones who have always kept the man in the arms of the mother, in the affection of the sister, in the love of the wife, and inspired them to pursue their work. Some social analysts think that at the root of all this is the patriarchal attitude and social system. Men have long seen women only as 'women', not as 'humans', considered them as consumer goods, entertainment material or just a means of producing children, as booty on the battlefield. It is as if the 'masculinity' of the 'heroes' wakes up, when they see the helpless, endangered women; their hands itch to attack.

In the analysis of violence and crime against women, many people consider this explanation as one-sided. Their idea is that here men and women are placed face-to-face, confronting against one another. As a result, mutual hatred and suspicion are being created between them. By doing so, an overall instability is being created in the society. It is turning into a firestorm of hatred and mutual violence instead of the garden of love. It is undeniable that in every age, men and women have joined hands in building human civilization, have worked to complement each other to take it forward. In times of danger, moments of joy and sorrow, they found the window of comfort and solace in each other. When men were sweating in the fields, the woman kept the house with utmost care. They found indescribable joy in sitting with eager interest in wait for the return of their beloved men. Many stories of compassion full of devotion and respect for the mother or unparalleled love for one's wife have been immortalized in history. Think about those heart touching stories of  devotion to mother of Bayazid Bostami or Vidyasagar! Why is James' song about the mother so popular? Isn't the mutual love of men and women the main preoccupation of novels, dramas, films or stories in the world? Have you ever wondered how Emperor Shah Jahan is still immortal today by building the Taj Mahal as a memorial to his beloved wife Mamtaz Mahal? Remember those two immortal lines from a poem of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam: 'এ পৃথিবীর যা কিছু মহান চিরকল্যাণকর/ অর্ধেক তার করিয়াছে নারী অর্ধেক তার নর' (All that is great and everlasting in this world, half of them was done by women, half by men)।

Ethicalists, of course, want to blame all the nuisance on the moral decay of society. They think that the society is falling apart day by day. Tick-tock or lare-lappa culture is being ingrained in the minds of young people. 'Eat, drink, and be merry' has become the driving force of their thinking. Further, many are getting addicted to drugs in the name enjoying their lives. Yaba-heroin-phensedyl have taken the place of tea-biscuits or chocolate-chanachur. As such, when boys and girls of this age have strong sexual passions, a section of the entertainment media is constantly provoking their emotions by sexually tickling them in various ways. On top of that, everyone now has one or more different brands of smartphones in their hands. Whenever the mind wants, there is no obstacle to get lost in the dark world with just a single push of a button. As a result, they are not getting the mental stability and moral motivation they need for good work, good thinking or social welfare activities. Boys and girls of this age always want to do something. When they are not getting good things to do, they are getting involved in crimes like theft, kidnapping, hooliganism, eve-teasing, murder and rape. Therefore, according to them, in order to curb the crime of young people in society, the emphasis should be placed on moral education. A massive social campaign has to be launched to involve boys and girls in constructive and social welfare activities. All  kinds of entertainment that give sexual tickling, under the guise of art and culture, must be controlled. The opportunity to view pornographic pictures and videos using the Internet should be stopped immediately.

A large section of society, however, thinks that none of these represents the actual cause. The real issue is the lack of good governance and the social and political patronage of the terrorists. Influential people in the area harbour and shadow these thugs to maintain their influence. As a result, they do not care about anyone, do whatever they want anytime. Gossipping at different points of the locality, teasing girls, dragging them on the fly, forcing them to engage in socially unacceptable activities in the name of love proposal, snatching, extortion, murder, rape, randomly beating up people to show off their muscles, sometimes getting divided in different factions and fighting among themselves - all these are among their daily works. They don't think that they need at all to take care of police.

There is a national demand that the law should be tightened to punish the rapists and the death penalty should be provided. The government also seems to be moving in that direction out of respect for public opinion. The question is, how much progress will be made in solving the problem by tightening the legal barriers? No matter how strict the law is, in order to enforce it, the culprit has to be taken to court. How many of the helpless women who are oppressed and raped by the terrorists and miscreants have the courage to go to the police station? Once the matter is taken to court, how long are we able to protect the victim from the wrath of the criminal gang, their accomplices and patrons during the period of time the case takes to settle? The case in court has to be proved through evidence. How many of the witnesses of the incident will agree to be victimized by chasing the buffaloes of the forest when they had to eat at their own home? The criminals equipped with money and wealth will pour money like water to hire all the veteran and skilled lawyers, will the poor victim be able to reciprocate the same way? So, strict law will give a strong message to rapists and miscreants, no doubt. However, in order to get the right result, the government and the society have to ensure that the miscreants do not get the shelter of the influential quarters. Then these crimes will come down spontaneously. You won't have to go to court. If you want a solution, then you have to get to the root. Otherwise the flow of events will continue, will keep continuing.

The writer is a Professor of Department of Pharmacy at Jahangirnagar University

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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