The socio-political factors that ‘influence sex offenders’
As the country is witnessing a growing number of rape incidents, experts think it is an outcome of ‘sick politics’ as many rapists have ‘political clout’ and advised political parties to go for a ‘course correction’.
They advocated for the formation of a high-profile national committee, comprising police, Rab, and members of the administration, judiciary and civil society, to contain the serious social menace and sexual violence of any kind by breaking the existing culture of impunity, reports UNB.
Talking to UNB, Dhaka University’s Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Social Sciences Faculty Dean Prof Sadeka Halim and Jahangirnagar University’s International Relations department's Professor Tarek Shamsur Rahman suggested the government to take a zero-tolerance policy towards rapists as it is doing towards the militants.
Contacted, Awami League Presidium Member Advocate Abdul Matin Khasru said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already instructed their party central leaders to take corrective measures so that the party’s image is not tarnished for some wrongdoers.
“The Prime Ministers asked us to take steps for removing the hybrid leaders and workers and intruders from the party. She also instructed us to abandon those who have bad records and involvement with criminal activities. We’re taking every necessary step so that no one can use our party identity for indulging in misdeeds,” he said.
Besides, Khasru said, the government has decided to amend the existing law to make the death sentence the highest punishment for rapists.
“We think only punishment alone can’t stop sexual harassment and rape. A multidimensional approach is needed to deal with this problem, and we’re working on it. We’ll surely take all the necessary measures to get rid of the heinous crime like rape as we can’t let Bangladesh be identified as a rapist country,” he said.
Punishment must be visible
Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury said the growing rape and violence against women are not isolated incidents as those have a strong link with corruption, abuse of power and the culture of impunity.
“Although rape incidents occur separately, these are a reflection of a disease of criminalisation of society and politics. Corruption and rape are also the opposite side of the same coin,” he said.
The noted educationist said the offenders of rape, sexual harassment and other crimes have no accountability and they hardly get punished because of their political influence and poor enforcement of law. “The rapists think they won’t be punished, even if they are caught by law enforcers as they get political support and can manage police. That’s why we’re now seeing that Chhatra League activists are being accused of rape.”
To prevent rape, the veteran professor said the perpetrators must be given exemplary punishment and that punishment must be visible. “The state must bring the perpetrators to justice and expedite the trial.”
Serajul Islam said the capitalist system has made people isolated, weak and powerless. “Those who’ve political clout and ill-gotten money are now powerful in society, and they can do anything without any accountability.”
He said a movement for social change is necessary as rapists cannot be stopped with only punishing them.
Serajul Islam said people are now very active on social media and giving their various reactions there. “But the impact of reaction on the streets and social media are not the same. People are getting relieved only expressing their anger on social media. But we need to take to the streets unitedly to show people’s power and frighten the criminals.”
He said restoring people’s power and strengthening the social system is the main way to get rid of the repressive acts and social crimes.
Emphasis on moral and sex education
Sadeka Halim said sexual violence has turned into a serious social menace for various reasons and ‘inaction of the state’.
“Men’s patriarchal mentality, pervasiveness, degradation of morality and values, weak family boding, unrest in society, criminalisation of politics, political backing, week law and legal system and poor enforcement of law are the major reasons behind the growing incidents of rape and sexual harassment,” she said.
Sadeka said universities and other educational institutions have apparently failed to educate their students on moral values as the current education system has become results-oriented. “Every guardian now thinks about the results and good jobs of their children. But they don’t think about making their children good human beings.”
The DU teacher said children in the country are not educated on sex issues. “Sex education is not a matter of shame and taboo. We should teach our children about the biological differences of a boy and a girl and how to respect each other.”
Sadeka said the most disturbing thing is that the ruling party ‘cadres’ are involved in most of the recent incidents of rape and sexual harassment.
“Political leaders are pampering some culprits and spoiled youths across the country for gaining their own interests. They become demons and don’t think about indulging in any crime, including rape. So, steps should be taken for their correction.”
Gangs on the prowl
Tarek Shamsur Rahman said though sexual harassment and rape is nothing new in society, now it has taken a serious turn due to the perpetrators’ political link.
“No political party should promote rapists and support such crimes against humanity. But the criminals are now using their political or party identities to get off the hook after committing such a crime,” he mentioned.
Tarek said political parties used to avoid their responsibility by calling the rapists and offenders as intruders, but they do not take any step to prevent these types of people from involving with their parties.
He said political parties should take action also against those leaders who pamper criminals and extend support to notorious gangs to oppress people.
“A notorious gang, led by Delwar who assaulted a woman in Begumganj, have long been flexing their muscles in their areas by indulging in various crimes and spreading panic among people. Such gangs are there in most areas in the country,” Tarek said.
“If we want to stop a rape like social crime, we must ensure exemplary punishment of the offenders and their promoters. We also must make our law enforcers accountable and take action if they pamper criminals,” he said.