The rape of two minor girls from the Tripura community in Lama upazila, Bandarban where the crimes were committed, is a reminder of how vulnerable young girls, particularly from indigenous communities, are in the region. In July nine-year-old Kirtika Tripura Purna was brutally murdered after rape, her body left in the forest. In January two Marma girls were sexually assaulted, one of them was raped. According to news reports there have been many other cases of violent crimes against girls and women of different indigenous communities.
In the latest incident two members of the Border Guard Bangladesh have been accused with another member allegedly abetting the crime. The allegations have been denied by the BGB. We expect that a thorough, proper investigation will reveal the culprits.
What is baffling though is why reporters and NGO officials were not allowed access to the hospital where the two girls are being treated. According to a report in this daily, rights activists and community organisers, the girls were being confined by the police at the hospital. Apparently this is because members of security forces who have been accused in the case are being investigated. But denying access to the victims only serves to raise questions in the public mind.
Reports of rape from all over the country are published almost every day and in most cases the rapists get away with their crimes because of legal loopholes and because they are connected to the influential and powerful in the community. In the case of indigenous women and girls, the situation is even direr as they are from marginalised communities.
We urge the government to ensure a thorough investigation into this latest case of sexual violence against two minors and that the rapists, no matter which organisation or group they belong to, are meted out exemplary punishment. Only then can we hope that these heinous crimes against women and girls of indigenous communities will stop.