Violence against women seems to be a daily occurrence. It is a great shame for us that despite living in modern civilization, we are failing to protect the dignity of our mothers and sisters.
The right of every human being to live in safety and dignity is protected by the state and constitution. The security of the individual is a fundamental right guaranteed by the universal declaration of human rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. The constitution of each country provides protection for both men and women. The question is how safe women are in Bangladesh today? During the war of liberation, many women in our country lost their dignity and lives for achieving the independence of Bangladesh. The father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman enacted some important articles for the safety and development of women in the constitution of 1972. Articles 27, 28 and 29 of the constitution of Bangladesh deal with the development and protection of women's rights. Since independence, a number of laws and policies have been enacted to ensure the safety and rights of women. Are women really safe in our country?
The reality of the country and the news in the newspapers do not say that. Women are not safe in their own homes, outside their homes, on the streets, in the markets, in public places, in offices, at work, in transportation and even in educational institutions. Everyday there are more or less reports of violence against women in the pages of newspapers. Recently tears came to my eyes while reading a piece of news. The headline of the news 'A girl from the street was forcibly picked up in a micro and gang-raped'. This is not a new phenomenon in our country, there have been several such incidents before. Rape is on the rise in the country at an alarming rate. Much research is needed to know and understand why rape is not declining even after the declaration of death penalty as the maximum punishment of rape. When the moral decay of a society and a state reaches its peak, even if strict laws are enforced in that society, crimes cannot be controlled. A state or society can never be made crime-free just by enforcing the laws strictly. In addition to law enforcement, strict social discipline, the practice of one's own culture, the strengthening of family ties, the development of moral education, and the role of civil society can control the crimes.
If we look at the recent survey of violence and rape, we can easily understand the condition of our social degradation. In 2019, 5400 cases of rape of women and 815 cases of rape of child were filed. In 2018, there were 727 cases of child rape and 3900 cases of rape of women. The Law and Arbitration Center said in its 2019 annual report that the number of rape cases has doubled across the country. Bangladesh Child Rights Forum said in its 2019 report that sexual abuse has increased by 70 percent. In the first six months of 2020, 601 women and children were raped, 462 women were single victims of rape and 134 women were gang-raped. 37 women were killed after the rape and 7 women committed suicide because they could not bear the humiliation of rape. Attempted rape was on 126 women. 253 women have been victims of domestic violence and 160 women have been killed. 40 women have committed suicide due to domestic abuse. According to the World Population Review, about 10 out of every 10,0000 women in Bangladesh are raped. Whatever the statistics of rape, there is no doubt that rape in Bangladesh is now taking a terrible turn. Although the lust of men is blamed for this rape, there are many reasons behind it. They are: 1. the spread of drugs, 2. deterioration of social and family moral values, 3. influence of satellite and sky culture, 4. the dominance of mobile, internet and the spread of pornography, 5. lack of religious education and social discipline, 6. loss of native culture and cultural aggression, 7. Loosening of family ties and governance, 8. lack of fair investigation, procrastination of cases and a culture of injustice, 9. lack of exemplary punishment for offenders, 10. a culture of concealing rape 11. not seeking immediate justice against rape, 12. male dominated society, poverty and gender inequality, 13. political malfeasance, 14. lack of proper socialization of children, 15. hegemonic and consumerist mentality, 16. lack of social movement, 17. lack of sports for children and adolescents, 18. removing the culture of punishment from the educational institution, 19. the spread of commercial approach rather than ethics in education, 20. negative attitudes towards women and negligence to the victims of rape.
At present society is advancing very fast in the field of technology but it is lagging behind in terms of ethics. The conflict between technology and ethics is now a big threat to civilized society. A society with a high sense of humanity is needed to eradicate social crimes like rape. A society cannot be made crime free just by enforcing the law, so real justice is needed. The maximum punishment for rape has been death but still rape is not decreasing. Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, China, North Korea, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India have death penalty provisions for rape. In Saudi Arabia, rapists are publicly beheaded as the maximum punishment for rape. In China rapists are sentenced to death as the maximum punishment and their penises are cut off in some cases. The rapist was shot dead in Afghanistan and the victim of the rape shoots the rapist. But the question is, despite such severe punishment in those countries, crimes like rape have not been uprooted entirely. Criminologists believe that since rape is related to the lust of male, there is no substitute for social values to eradicate it. The drugs and the naked side of satellite culture have engulfed the youth of Bangladesh today. Our children and youth today are far from our rich culture. We have very little control over how well our young generation adapts to our rich culture. Movies, dramas, telefilms and TV programmes rich in family and social stories hardly exist today. There was a culture of reading books among the youth in our society which is also on the verge of extinction today. Libraries that were once established in different parts of the country are on the verge of disappearing. The children of the educational institutions were kept under strict discipline but today relaxation is visible there. The strict monitoring of the teachers over the students was seen in the past but today this culture has vanished. Disintegration of joint families has resulted in the formation of small families and isolation among the children. The playground of children and teenagers is lost today and they cannot find pure entertainment today. In isolated lives, children and adolescents have become overly dependent on mobile, internet, satellite that are misleading them. Once upon a time, the young people of Bengal took to the streets to protest against injustice, but today they are so busy with mobile and internet that they have lost their mentality to stand against any injustice. As a result, there is hardly social movement against rape.
If the perpetrators do not receive exemplary punishment, the crime increases and they become more violent. It is easy to imagine how miserable the life of rape victims is. Many women do not want to seek shelter of the law after being raped for fear of disrespect and social exploitation. Those who dare to take the shelter of law are often victim of different harassments and even they are deprived of real justice. Although cases of violence against women are supposed to be completed within 180 days, it takes a lot of time for various reasons. According to a survey of Action Aid Bangladesh, 62 percent of women do not want to go out at night for fear of rape and abuse and 60 percent of them do not want to go out of the home alone. 26% women want to avoid secluded places and 10 % of them want to avoid public transport. Bangladesh has now an average of four rapes everyday. However, in only three percent of rape cases, the accused are punished. Although the verdict of rape case is fast in the lower court, it takes years to get the final verdict from the High Court. It took 18 years to get final verdict of Sajnin rape and murder case. A rape victim and her family suffer from procrastination.
There are a number of steps that must be taken to eradicate crimes like rape. They are: 1. Mobile use by the children, adolescents and youth must be restricted; 2. Schools need to further expand the scope of moral education and to ensure strict discipline in schools; 3.Teachers need to be specially trained to teach children morals; 4. Mosque-based social awareness and moral education need to be ensured; 5. Libraries should be set up in every village and book reading competitions must be organized; 6. Large markets, entertainment and tourist centres should have book collections; 7. The spread of drugs must be stopped at any cost; 8. Healthy entertainment must be provided for children and teenagers; 9. To ensure fair and impartial investigation and exemplary punishment; 10. Children need to be socialized on the basis of indigenous culture; 11. Children need to be engaged in a variety of sports and social service.
Above all, the government has to take action considering the overall problem.
The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola