It is outrageous that yet another woman was gang-raped in Noakhali's Subarnachar upazila on March 31, by the supporters of an upazila vice-chairman candidate, for campaigning for another vice-chairman candidate. Barely three months ago, another woman was gang-raped in the same upazila by the activists of the ruling party, allegedly for voting for the “sheaf of paddy” in the December 30 national election. The case filed in the incident is now under trial.
In this latest case, the woman was targeted because of the rivalry between the two candidates, both of whom are alleged supporters of the ruling Awami League. From the shocking incidents of sexual violence against women because they chose to support political candidates of their own choice, it seems that rape has now become an instrument of political vengeance.
While the government has always been very vocal about the political empowerment of women, in reality, the situation seems to be quite the opposite. Otherwise, how can a woman be subject to the worst kind of sexual violence because of the internal feuds of the party members? The perpetrators may be rogue members, but common knowledge has it that they belong to the ruling party. So the party cannot just shrug off its responsibility. It has to take punitive action against the rapists.
Over the years, the number of incidents of rape, gang-rape and other forms of violence against women has significantly increased across the country. And in many of the cases, the perpetrators are either directly involved with the ruling party or have connections with the party high-ups. And this is precisely the reason why the conviction rate in rape cases is extremely low. This culture of impunity must be broken. And in this incident, the government must ensure that the alleged rapists are arrested immediately and awarded strict punishment.