A rape victim's rocky road to justice | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:07 AM, April 03, 2019

A rape victim's rocky road to justice

This is the story of a brave girl who chose not to give up her fight for justice for a gang rape committed against her in October last year. She knocked the doors of Bhatara police, National Human Rights Commission and even the Prime Minister's Office before the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) took over the case only about two weeks ago and arrested the three rapists.

All the accused -- Nabirul Islam, Shahadat Hossain, and Mohammad Kawser -- confessed on Sunday to committing the crime under section 164.

Following the arrests, Investigation Officer Al-Amin, sub-inspector of PBI, Dhaka Metro North, said he was yet to arrest a female accomplice who had taken Laboni [not her real name] on October 12, 2018 to meet Nabirul on Kuril Bishwa Road.

Laboni and her female friend had gone out to have dinner at a restaurant with some friends of the latter. Laboni said it was a set-up. They were all in Nabirul's car, and the friend got off the vehicle around 9:30pm that night. Suddenly finding herself alone with three men whom she did not know well, she screamed and then scuffled with them before the men took turns to rape her.

All three accused are drivers by profession who drove rental cars and for ridesharing services.

Being let go after midnight, Laboni went straight to Bhatara Police Station to file a rape case. There, police suggested that she file an attempt-to-rape case since rape would “draw negative attention”.

Investigation into “rape attempt” followed. Complaints of insincerity and flirting with the rape survivor against the first investigation officer led to his replacement by a female police officer. The female IO was not cooperative either, asking Laboni to find the addresses of the accused.

Frustrated at one point, Laboni called a press conference in November and recounted her struggles in search of legal remedy.  She also wrote to the Human Rights Commission and the PMO and threatened of suicide if no action was taken to punish the rapists.

“I went to the IO [from Bhatara Police Station] at least 40 times before I decided to publicly talk about what had happened to me,” she told The Daily Star over the phone on Monday. 

The medical evidence which is crucial and hard to get in most cases was in Laboni's favour. Al-Amin said they would soon submit a charge sheet for the trial to begin. 

For now, it seems that Laboni has reached the end of her battle. It is now up to the system to ensure ultimate justice for a rape survivor.

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