Our system goes against the victim
Sexual offences against women take place in Bangladesh because of the social system that blames the victims more than the offenders, said a Rajshahi court yesterday.
"The society smears her in such a way that it is as if she had committed the crime -- our system makes the victim think that the crime happened because of her," said Ismat Ara, the public prosecutor of Rajshahi's Cyber Tribunal, quoting Md Ziaur Rahman, the judge.
The observation came while delivering judgement into a case of sexual offence in Bogura district's Kahalu upazila in January 2017.
In the judgement, the court said the victims of sexual crimes face various discriminations and social injustices, and they become cornered in their societies and even in their own families.
To set an example, the court showed the highest honour to the victim: she was given a pseudonym Kolpo for the case proceedings, Ara said.
Citing the examples of Britain and India, the judge said Bangladesh has a similar law to protect the victim's identity.
But the victim's identity invariably gets disclosed in some newspapers and online news portals.
Some newspapers do not mention the victim's name, but give descriptions in such a way that it becomes easy for interested groups to identify the victim, the judge said.
In addition, the court decided not to bring the victim for her witness description and depended on the other prosecution witnesses during the trial.
"We dream of a society where both men and women will live a dignified life without discrimination. But some men are behaving with women like they are commodities without showing due respect -- the Bogura victim was also treated that way."
While studying in a university, the victim married a man named Golam Rosul of Kahalu upazila. She kept her marriage a secret from her family.
Ten days after the wedding, she learnt that her husband, who was aged 34 then, had another wife and children.
She divorced Rosul right away. But Rosul kept on pestering Kolpo to go back to him and threatened her with publishing compromising photographs of her on the internet.
On January 24, 2017, Kolpo's father discovered an envelope carrying his daughter's compromising photographs on his doorstep. He learnt his neighbours got similar envelopes.
Two days later, her father filed a case with Kahalu police station and the police promptly arrested Rosul and seized similar photographs from his possession.
On April 14, 2017, police pressed charges in the case against Rosul under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006.
In the meantime, Rosul was granted bail by the High Court and became a fugitive by never appearing before the court.
On November 1, 2018, the court framed charges against him in his absence.
And finally, yesterday Rosul was sentenced to ten years in prison along with a fine of Tk 5 lakh, which would go to the victim as compensation.
Failure to pay the fine would lead to an additional six months of jail time.