The UN has expressed serious concerns over the increasing violence against women in Bangladesh and called for justice.
“These are heinous crimes and grave violations of human rights. One rape is one too many,” said the UN in a statement yesterday amid the rising number of rape incidents that triggered nationwide protests.
UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo tweeted the statement both in Bangla and English, reports our diplomatic correspondent.
The recent case of the woman from Noakhali that was circulated through social media has yet again underlined the state of social, behavioral and structural misogyny that exist, said the UN Bangladesh office.
“While UN stands with the public and civil society groups in calling for justice, we recognise that these are not isolated incidents. We promote a systematic approach to strengthen protection of women’s rights,” the statement reads.
The UN strongly recommended an urgent reform of the criminal justice system to support and protect victims and witnesses, and to speed up the slow trial process.
Meanwhile, students and rights activists took to the streets across the country for the third consecutive day yesterday, protesting rape and sexual abuse of women and children, including the recent gang-rape of a Noakhali woman.
They demanded the authorities amend the law and bring rapists to justice through speedy trial tribunals, introduce dedicated courts for trial of rape cases and ensure capital punishment for rapists.
The protesters also demanded resignation of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan for failing to prevent rapes across the country.
In the capital, different leftist students’ platforms, non-profit organisations, Bangladesh Chhatra Adhikar Parishad and Nirapad Sarak Andolon staged protests in Shahbagh, Central Shaheed Minar, Dhanmondi and Uttara areas.
The agitators blocked different roads and intersections since morning, causing traffic gridlocks in some parts of the city, including Airport Road, Badda Link Road, and Shahbagh areas.
Nirapad Sarak Andolon held a rally in Central Shaheed Minar area around 11:00am. Protesters from the platform later began a march towards the Prime Minister’s Office. Law enforcers intercepted them in Sonargaon intersection area.
Later, a five-member representative team of the organisation went to the PMO and submitted a memorandum with seven-point demand.
The demands include passing of a new law with a provision for capital punishment of rapists, holding trials of rape cases at speedy trail tribunals, introducing a hotline to provide prompt service to the victims, tasking a female police officer at each police station with recording rape cases, tasking female cops with the investigation of rape cases, and taking steps against officials involved in helping criminals.
Bangladesh Chhatra Odhikar Parishad under the banner of “Students-People against Rape and Abuse”, led by former Ducsu VP Nurul Haque Nur, brought out a procession from Shahbagh intersection.
Carrying black flags, the protesters marched towards the home ministry, demanding resignation of the home minister. Police obstructed the procession at Zero Point in the city’s Gulistan area around 1:00pm.
Nur said the anti-rape protests should be turned into mass movements and social movements. He demanded the authorities amend the existing laws, if necessary, and bring rapists to justice under the speedy trial law.
He alleged that police were backing the rapists. “And here, the home minister is leading them. He has failed to provide security to the country’s citizens. The minister must step down immediately.”
Muhammad Rashed Khan, another leader of the platform, said the home minister’s recent comment on rape has angered the people of the country.
“We don’t want a home minister who can’t ensure security of our mothers and sisters,” he said.
The organisation called for a mass protest in Shahbagh at 4:00pm on Friday.
Supporters of Save Our Women – Bangladesh, a non-profit organisation, formed a human chain in front of the National Museum in Shahbagh. They demanded dedicated courts for trial of rape incidents and death penalty for rapists.
Sanjida Khan, president of the platform, said so many rape incidents were taking place in the country and many of them remained unreported. She said they want to raise awareness among families as many conceal rape incidents.
She urged all families to ensure moral lessons for their male children.
In Uttara, students gathered in groups in front of BNS Centre since morning. They formed a human chain there around 11:00pm. The human chain later turned into a protest rally.
At one stage, the agitating students blocked a part of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
In the afternoon, students and common people held a protest rally on Dhanmondi Road -27.
Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association yesterday formed a human chain in the capital. Expressing deep concern over the rise in rape incidents, the organisation demanded arrest of the culprits.
Similar protests were held in other districts, including Brahmanbaria, Bogura, Chandpur, Chapainawabganj, Manikganj and Narayanganj.
Several hundred students from different schools and colleges staged demonstrations in Narayanganj city, blocking Bangabandhu Road in front of the Bijoy Stomvo in Chashara from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
In Bogura, about 350 students from different educational institutions organised a protest rally and sit-in in the district town’s Satmatha area.
The protesters urged lawyers not to defend rapists in courts and called upon the government to complete the trial of each rape case within three months after the occurrence of an incident.