Following the government's decision to incorporate the provision of capital punishment for rape in the draft of the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill, anti-rape protesters have termed it an "irresponsible decision" to suppress the ongoing anti-rape movement and vowed to continue their activities.
The protesters -- comprising of some left-leaning parties, students, youths and rights activists -- said they will continue to press home their nine-point demand.
At a press briefing in front of National Museum yesterday afternoon, protesters under the banner of "Bangladesh against Rape and Impunity" announced the route of their long-march from Dhaka to Noakhali on October 16.
The march will start from Shahbagh and go through Gulistan, Chashara, Sonargaon, Chandina, Cumilla, Feni, Daganbhuiyan, Chaumuhani and Eklaspur. On October 17, they will hold a rally in Maizdi.
Anik Roy, general secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, read out the press statement. Among others, Arif Noor of Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Khan Asaduzzaman Masum of Jubo Union, Nasir Uddin Prince of Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, were also present.
They alleged that the prime minister stood in the cabinet and tried to extinguish the movement just when it reached its peak. Death penalty for rapists is not a solution, but in many cases the law can be a threat to the victim's own life if it is enforced, they said.
The rapist will want to remove the signs of rape, even resorting to killing the victim, they feared.
Rather than increasing the level of punishment, the law should aim to remove the barriers to proving the crime. The path is to make it easier for the victim to get justice, read their statement.
The goal should rather be to ensure proper investigation into each incident and enforce the punishment once the crime is proven, it added.
Mentioning that the conviction rate of rape cases is only three percent, the speakers said most cases do not even reach the judicial process. They also alleged that police is often non-cooperative in the investigation process.
Unless this culture of impunity and the innumerable inconsistencies and complexities in the legal and judicial process is alleviated, capital punishment will not play a positive role in curbing "rape culture" in the country, they said, adding that it is extremely difficult for a victim to seek justice in the face of the immense power exercised by ruling party leaders and activists.
After going through all this, even if the victim reaches the court, she has to prove her own character. In such a structure, a victim gets oppressed not once, but repeatedly, protesters said. Without solving all these issues, this movement cannot be stopped just by uttering the word "death penalty".
The protesters' 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 protestors said they also want 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.