A mother's desperate plea for justice
It is disconcerting to learn of a mother who held an hourlong sit-in in Bogura's Satmatha area on Saturday, demanding justice for the alleged rape of her teenage daughter last year. How hopeless must she have felt about the prospect of justice before publicly revealing that her daughter had been raped – in a culture where such admissions can result in further humiliation of the victim? Why did she have to resort to such means to get the attention of the authorities?
According to a report by this daily, the accused was a tenant at the victim's house and had raped her several times. He apparently had videos of the rape on his phone and threatened to release them if she did not comply with his wishes. This is the allegation made by her mother who, importantly, also accused a high-ranking police officer of destroying the evidence (by deleting the video) to protect the accused. She demanded that his name be added in the chargesheet.
While only after the case has been tried and a verdict reached will we know for sure whether the accused is guilty, it must be acknowledged that in the majority of rape cases, bringing the criminals to book is an uphill task. This is especially so when the accused are connected to power. The role of police or investigating officers in such cases is crucial. Therefore, the allegation of destroying evidence in Bogura deserves scrutiny, and the possibility of departmental investigations being partial cannot be ruled out either. With the suspect now out on bail – and the police officer transferred to another district – the mother's desperate plea for help is thus not surprising.
Her protests hit particularly home considering how widespread the culture of sexual assault has become, with at least 353 women/girls being raped in the first six months of this year alone, according to an estimate. One of the major factors behind this is the poor rate of conviction (in only 3 percent of all rape cases). Most rapists and assaulters have a sense of impunity because they believe there are many loopholes in the legal system that can be circumvented. Corruption among members of law enforcement has been the greatest deterrent in ensuring justice for victims who do not have money or connections.
We, therefore, urge the authorities to ensure a fair investigation of both the rape case and the complaint against the police officer. The state must protect the victim and her family from any repercussion. A mother should not have to protest in the streets to get justice for the rape of her child.