Cry for justice rings louder
The gang-rape victim of Noakhali’s Subarnachar upazila yesterday alleged that she and her family members feel insecure as the perpetrators continue to threaten them.
“The accused who are in and outside jail are still threatening me and my family members so that we don’t speak up. They threatened to set my house on fire and tried to kill my elder daughter a few days ago while we went to attend a court hearing,” she said while addressing a daylong symbolic hunger strike.
“They have bought witnesses and told them not to testify before court, otherwise they will face similar consequence,” she alleged.
“We Can”, a women’s rights organisation, arranged the programme on Central Shaheed Minar premises. Victims of rape, sexual harassment along with family members of women killed after rape participated in the event.
The Noakhali victim said, “I was assured by the government that I would be given a piece of land along with a house to live, but I am yet to get those. So far, no one [from the government] has contacted me to know about my circumstances except these rights organisations,” she added.
The woman, who was gang-raped by a group of miscreants allegedly led by Awami League’s Subarnachar unit former publicity secretary Ruhul Amin on December 31 last year, demanded justice and urged the government to ensure her and her family members’ security.
A sombre mood prevailed at yesterday’s event while many shared their ordeals and sought justice.
Hafizur Rahman, brother of Rupa Khatun who was raped on a moving bus and killed afterwards, expressed doubt over getting justice as the case has been pending with the higher court for more than two years.
“A lower court has delivered a verdict but the case has been pending with the higher court since many days. I doubt whether the verdict will be upheld…,” said a teary Hafizur.
Mahbubur Rahman, brother of a woman who was sexually assaulted and killed by her husband, said he does not demand justice anymore because he knows they will not get it.
Speaking at the event, noted human rights activist Sultana Kamal said, “Only a handful of tortured persons have gathered here, but if we look at the statistics we will be shocked. Around 5,000 women were raped in the last 10 months. Why did we not raise our voice against this after hearing the numbers? Because a mentality has grown among us that we would not get justice even if we seek it.”
“We have protested against such repression and spoke on several occasions, but incidents of torture are on the rise. The main reason behind it is that we have established a culture of impunity,” she added.
A report on rape and harassment prepared by Ain o Salish Kendra and Manusher Jonno Foundation was also presented during the programme.
The report, prepared by these organisations, gathered information from media reports of nine national dailies -- Prothom Alo, The Daily Ittefaq, Samakal, The Sangbad, the Daily Janakantha, Daily Nayadiganta, The Daily Star, New Age and Dhaka Tribune.
A memorandum, which will be included with this report, will be submitted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina along with their nine-point demand.
Their demands include, transforming the women and children repression prevention tribunal into a special tribunal for ensuring quick trials, providing compensation, treatment and security to victims during trials and declaring a “zero tolerance” policy against rape and sexual harassment.
According to the report, at least 1,253 women were raped in first 10 months of this year across the country. Besides, 62 others were murdered after rape during the time period.
The report stated that 10 more victims committed suicide after rape within the span and some 767 children were also raped.