Child rape in Bangladesh: Tangled up in trauma
12:00 AM, September 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:47 AM, September 09, 2019

Tangled up in trauma

Teen rape victim, her son to hear verdict on their custody today; ‘rapists’ in jail awaiting trial

Tumpa (not her real name) grew up in her maternal grandfather’s house in a small village of Bogura’s Dhunat upazila and was a seventh-grade student at a nearby high school.

But her life changed when on April 15 last year her neighbour, Bakul, 24, allegedly went inside her home and then raped and impregnated her, according to a case filed by Tumpa’s father.

With a seven-month-old baby in her arms, she fled her father’s home in August 2018 in search of a roof over her head, food and some compassion for her and her baby.

Following a court order, Tumpa, 13, and her son are now sheltered at the Rajshahi Safe Home -- a place for juvenile delinquents or victims without a safe place to stay.

There, the mother and son anxiously wait for the Bogura magistrate court to decide today who will get custody of her and her child.

Meanwhile, the minor mother has been subjected to physical and mental torture, blackmail, intimidation and social stigma of all kinds.

THE CASE VS REALITY

After the incident and an initial village arbitration, Tumpa’s father filed a case on October 3.

According to the case statement, on April 15, 2018, Bakul entered her room and raped her around 4:30pm.

The case statement also alleged that Tumpa’s grandfather, after witnessing the incident, blackmailed her saying he would tell the villagers about the rape if she did not have sex with him.

Both the neighbour and the grandfather raped her several times, the case statement claimed.

Tumpa gave her statement to the magistrate’s court on October 24, 2018, alleging that she had been raped by both men, who are now in jail awaiting trial, police said.

However, in a recent conversation with this correspondent Tumpa alleged that her father forced her to falsely implicate her grandfather in the case.

“My grandfather never raped me,” Tumpa told this correspondent on August 17 at Dhunat Police Station premises.

“I accused my maternal grandfather when my aunt [maternal uncle’s wife] and my father threatened to kill my mother, a garments worker in Dhaka, if I did not do so,” she alleged.

Both Tumpa and her mother alleged that her maternal grandfather was implicated in the case because Tumpa’s father was trying to avoid “charges of abduction”.

Asked why her father may be charged with abduction, police said they have reasons to believe that Tumpa’s father had developed a relationship with his brother-in-law’s wife. He then took the woman and her child to a separate rented house, just 10 days before filing the case.

After he left with the woman, Tumpa’s grandfather had threatened him of filing an abduction case against him.

Asked, Tumpa’s father admitted to the relationship and said his brother-in-law’s wife convinced him that Tumpa’s grandfather also raped her.

Speaking to this correspondent, the woman, however, refuted the allegations.

BEYOND THE CASE DOCUMENT

After the incident, Tumpa was sent away from her grandfather’s home to her father’s.

When her pregnancy was confirmed, her father initially tried to marry her off to Bakul.

An arbitration facilitated by the union parishad chairman was held between Tumpa and Bakul’s families and where a marriage was agreed upon, on the condition that Tumpa’s child’s DNA matched with that of Bakul, Tumpa’s father told this correspondent.

When Bakul’s family found out that there may be involvement of the grandfather, they retracted from the marriage deal, he added.

After this, Tumpa’s father decided to file a case accusing their neighbour and Tumpa’s grandfather of raping her.

WILL HER TRAUMA END?

After her son was born, Tumpa’s father rented a house and confined both mother and child there.

“We had very little food and money. My paternal grandmother, who lived with us, constantly tortured me mentally, reprimanding me for getting raped and giving birth to a baby,” she said. 

On August 15, she fled to a relative’s house, only to be apprehended by police and taken to Bogura magistrate’s court, which had initially given the father the custody of Tumpa.

Sub-inspector of Dhunat Police Station Shahinur Rahman, investigation officer of the case, said, “We collected the DNA samples of the victim, the baby, and the two alleged rapists and sent those to Dhaka. The charge sheet will be submitted once all the DNA tests results arrive.”

Regarding the grandfather’s involvement, Public Prosecutor Ashequr Rahman Sujon said the rape survivor has the option to apply to provide a second statement to the court, but it would be better to do so after getting the DNA test results.

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