Stop violence against women

Protests pour in over Tangail gang rape

Students, rights activists and civil society members demonstrate with their mouths gagged in front of the Jatiya Sangsad in the capital yesterday to protest the gang rape of a Tangail schoolgirl.

Enraged by the recent gangrape of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Tangail, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban yesterday to demand an end to violence against women.

The protesters sought justice for the schoolgirl and another 14-year-old Marma girl who was raped and then murdered in Rangamati around the same time in December.

The state should ensure women's protection and to do so, they said, it has to address the issues in a systematic and collective manner. Besides, a significant change is necessary in the patriarchal mindsets at family and community levels.

Representatives from 20 rights organisations, cultural activists, students and many others participated in the human chain and rally organised by Sangat Bangladesh and One Billion Rising.

“We have to respond by ensuring justice [to the survivors of violence] and by sending out a very clear message that there is zero tolerance for rape,” said prominent human rights activist Irene Khan.

Rapes had the lowest conviction rates in the world, she said, which was why such acts were committed again and again.

Women's rights activist Maleka Begum criticised the societal trend to blame the victim rather than the rapists.

When they are traumatised by what has happened to them, their families shun them, police refuse to file cases and courts fail to ensure justice. This is how the rape victims are harassed repeatedly. Structural failures and patriarchal attitudes should be blamed for all this, speakers said.

A multi-dimensional approach must be undertaken to address violence against women, said Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, emphasizing the need for incorporating gender issues in the education system.

“Women's rights activists are coming to the realisation that in order to make the movement stronger we have to include everyone.”

Theatre personality Sara Zaker echoed Shaheen's view, saying the movement needed to “go viral”.

Spontaneous reactions such as demonstrations would be there but long-term strategies were what needed to combat the issue, said women's rights activist Shipra Bose.

Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain O Shalish Kendro; Shireen Haq, founder member of Naripokkho; Khushi Kabir, coordinator of Nijera Kori; Aly Zaker, theatre personality; Farah Khan, country director of ActionAid, and cultural organiser Nasiruddin Yousuf Bacchu also joined the demonstration.

Meanwhile, human chains were formed in Tangail, Madhupur and Gala union, condemning the 15-year-old's gangrape and demanding exemplary punishment to the culprits. The protesters also asked the authority to give protection to the victim and her family.

Political and social organisations in the capital demanded expeditious trial of the violators.

Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, and its General Secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed in a joint statement expressed concern over the rape.

The chairman and the general secretary of Bangladesh Tariqat Federation said the incident in Tangail proved that the government had failed to provide security to the people.

The Jatiya Konyashishu and Advocacy Forum held a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club, demanding exemplary punishment to the violators.

Source:The Daily Star