Speakers at a human chain yesterday demanded exemplary punishment for those who have raped women and children of indigenous communities, including the 14-year-old Tripura girl raped at Chakaria upazila in Cox’s Bazar six days ago.
They also demanded compensation to family of the teenager, and formation of a special cell to take action against all sorts of violence against indigenous women and children.
Leaders of different indigenous communities, university teachers, rights activists and students formed the human chain in front of National Museum.
The Tripura victim, a ninth-grader, was raped on January 31 after she went out of her hostel in Lama’s Hebron Mission area to drink water from a tubewell nearby.
Police arrested a man, said to be an Awami League activist, on charge of raping the girl.
Falguni Tripura, coordinator of Bangladesh Adivasi Nari Network, said it is regrettable that women and children were not safe during a programme where a minister was present.
The incident took place during a political programme, organised by the Bandarban-Lama AL unit. There were several on-duty policemen present as a minister, among others, was present at the event. The indigenous leader alleged that most rapists go unpunished as they have links with influential quarters.
“Rape is a war strategy; a strategy to expel minorities from their own land and country,” remarked Dhaka University professor Robayet Ferdous.
He stressed the need to wage a strong programmes instead of human chains, to stop violence against women.
Ishani Chakraborty, a professor of DU history department, said rape and corruption have become epidemic in the country, and the time has come to declare death sentences for rapists.
“Human rights activists often speak out against the death penalty. But when the situation is epidemic, there is no option left,” she added.
Director of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Jona Goswami, programme officer of Kapaeeng Foundation Khokon Suiten Murmu, Monira Tripura from Bangladesh Adivasi Forum and leaders of different students’ bodies expressed their solidarity at the human chain.