Rape Crime And Stigma
Barrister Md Solaiman :
It is very painful and shocking that the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists gang-raped a wife after tying her husband in the dormitory of the MC College in Sylhet. On the other hand, a female student of the Islamic Studies Department of the Dhaka University (DU) has accused former DUCSU VP Nurul Haque Nur and five other anti-quota movement leaders in a rape case, and sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's help for justice.
On 25 September 2020 appearing before the media outside the National Press Club in the capital the female student mentioned that the main accused in the case is Hasan Al Mamun, a postgraduate student from the same department who served as the convener of the Bangladesh Council to Protect General Students. Mamun is charged with trapping the alleged victim with false promises of marriage before raping her.
However, VP Nurul Haque Nur refused all allegations against him. It is a humble appeal to the law enforcement agency to investigate both matters properly and accurately.
As the female student filed the case after a few months later of the alleged incident, therefore the question raised about legitimacy. Rape is an evil act and stigma against the whole society and violates the human rights of the victim. Rape leaves a perpetual scar on the life of the victim. Therefore, the victims take time to make a formal complaint. In many cases, even the victim did not make any complain due to fear of social stigma.
However, in some cases, the victims make complaints after consensual sex with a man based on love and passion especially with boyfriends, relatives or friends if the marriage does not take place.
Rape is a punishable offence under section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860. Under Section 376 of the Penal Code, whoever commits rape shall be punished with (imprisonment) for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine. Rape is a word for sexual assault. This is one of the worst crimes. Rape involves sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. However, section 375 of the Penal Code defines rape. There are five elements of rape under section 375.
According to the report of Ain O Salish Kendra '(ASK), a total of 889 women were raped and gang-raped in 2020 (January- August), 41 of them were killed after rape, 192 women were attempts to rape while 9 of them committed suicide after rape.
This information is very much shocking for every human being. This is a failure for a nation. The failure does not only belong to the government or law enforcement agency, as a citizen of a country we are part of this failure.
Every citizen of this country believes that the hand of the law enforcement agency is so powerful. They should work effectively and impartially. It seems that the police or other law enforcement agency does not act properly if the criminals are the supporter of the government. Therefore, the question is already raised about the MC college incident whether the police will act properly to investigate and to arrest the culprits or not. The law enforcement agency should not favour even though the criminals are the supporter of the government. Police should consider them as a criminal.
We want to see more and more action from our law enforcement agency. We don't want to see any unexpected incident in the territory of Bangladesh. We want to see the safe country for everyone. We must ensure the safety of our womenfolk. We should give proper assistance to the law enforcement agency to catch the culprits. Similarly, we should follow the proper procedure to bring the criminals before justice.
Under Article 36 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, every citizen has the right to move freely throughout Bangladesh. The government must ensure this right for every citizen. It does not matter someone is a man or woman or night or day time. Freedom of movement is a Constitutional right and the government's organ especially the law enforcement agency must work properly to confirm this right for every human being of Bangladesh. According to Article 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, "No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty in accordance with law".
Additionally, Under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), everyone has the right of freedom of movement. Under Article 25 of the UDHR, every person has right to security. Bangladesh joined with the UDHR on 17 September 1974. Therefore, the government of Bangladesh has the duty to ensure freedom of movement and security for every citizen under International Law. The UDHR is a milestone document in the history of human rights.
Although the Penal code specifies about rape, it does not postulate the consequence of the consensual sex. Therefore, the victims or their families sometimes use the law as a weapon for revenge and personal vendetta. So, it is the duty of the Apex Court to determine the consequence of consensual sex. Anyway, it is necessary to bring the rapist before justice because rape is a crime not only against the women or victim; it is against the whole society.
The actual culprits must be punished properly by the criminal justice system. At the same time, the rape allegation should not use as a weapon for revenge.
(Barrister Solaiman is a member of The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, an Associate of Dr. M. Khaled Ahmed & Associates,and a specialist on International Human Rights Law. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)