Rape, Sexual Assault: Protesters begin long march to Noakhali | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:37 AM, October 17, 2020

Rape, Sexual Assault: Protesters begin long march to Noakhali

Anti-rape protesters started their long-march programme from Dhaka to Noakhali's Begumganj upazila against the growing incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women across the country in recent times and the culture of impunity.

Around 450 protesters, including left-leaning parties, socio-cultural ogranisations, students, youths and rights activists, started their long march under the banner of "Bangladesh against Rape and Impunity", to press home their nine-point demand, from the capital's Shahbagh area around 10:30am.

The two-day march will move through Gulistan, Chashara, Sonargaon, Chandina, Cumilla, Feni, Daganbhuiyan, Chaumuhani and Ekhlaspur. Their concluding rally will be held in Maizdi of Noakhali today.

The long march moved towards Noakhali with anti-rape slogans and posters like "silence is unjust when humanity is affected", "end the culture of impunity", "rape and crossfire are the government's weapons", "say no to victim blaming", and "we want the resignation of the failed home minister", among others.

Speaking at a rally at Shahbagh, Masud Rana, president of the Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, said, "People will not accept the culture of impunity that has been created through ruling party's patronage across the country. Our long march aims to create a mass awakening against it."

The demonstrators said the government has made the death penalty the maximum punishment for rape. But this is not enough to eradicate rape from the society and the state.

Their nine-point demand include reformation of the Evidence Act, implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) charter, exemplary punishment for those involved in gender-based violence, and an end to repression of women in the hills and plain land.

The protesters also wanted the government to be accountable to the people for their failure to curb rape culture and demanded immediate resignation of the home minister in this connection.

On their way, they held street rallies at Sonargaon, Chashara, Chandina and Cumilla yesterday, joined by more protesters from these places.

Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Charan Sangskritik Kendra, Bangladesh Nari Mukti Kendra, Bangladesh Chhatra Union, Bangladesh Chhatra Federation, Bangladesh Juba Union, and Samajtantrik Chhatra Front were among the organisers there.

During a rally in Narayanganj's Chashara, Anik Roy, general secretary of Chhatra Union, said in a country where the conviction rate of rape cases is only three percent, death penalty for rapists is just to stop the protest.

"We are continuing the protest despite police obstruction and threats. Our fight will continue till the resignation of this failed home minister," he said.

Protests against rape and violence against women erupted across the country since the beginning of October, following the recent incidents of gang rape in Sylhet's MC College and in Noakhali's Begumganj upazila.

In the wake of widespread protests against the growing incidents of rape, the president has promulgated an ordinance allowing death penalty as the highest punishment for the crime instead of life imprisonment.

Rights activists and experts, however, said enacting death penalty in the law is not a solution to the problem, and the government should instead reform the social and legal system that actually tackle root causes behind impunity for rape and other sexual violence against women.

 

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