Feb 15, 2020
Rape can devastate a human being who has been a victim of it. Governments of many countries are trying rigorously to prevent this heinous act. According to the statistics , a total of 1,229 rape cases among the 4,541 were settled till date. A total of 60 accused were indicted in those cases. However, 73 per cent of the cases are yet to be solved. According to a report of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, on an average, in the first six months of the current year an estimated 11 women, and girl child suffer some form of violence every day. During the first six months of 2019, approximately 2083 women, and girl child were subjected to sexual violence. The report revealed that out of the total 731 incidents of sexual violence, 592 were raped, 113 were gang-raped, 26 were killed after being raped, and 123 were victims of attempted rape. This indicates that the criminal justice system is not working properly to deal with rape cases. However, to understand the root causes behind this heinous act of crime, one needs to look at the history of the crime.
History suggests that rape has been occurring in different forms from the ancient time. During medieval time a man seeking an upward mobility might engage in “heiress stealing”-abduct and then rape a young woman from a wealthy family in order to compel her to agree to be his bride. With the development of feudalism, the rape of a woman from the nobility was recognized as punishable; but forcing a peasant woman to submit was not considered as a crime. In the Old South, a black man merely accused of raping a white woman could face the prospect of execution, or even lynching without a trial. In wartime, the enemy’s women were ‘enjoyed’ by the conquering soldiers as the spoils of victory. But at the onset of 1970s, feminist thinkers started fighting for the rights of women, created movements against the oppression and harassment of women. Moreover, very recently we are observing added dimension of cruelty after rape. As it seems that only by making laws and punishing the rapist the criminal justice system is failing to stop rape, it is high time to establish and run some parallel procedures together with the existing legal and judicial system which will act as fuel for preventing rape.
It is very commonly observed that society isolates the rape victims in every sphere of their lives and families even abandon her in certain cases. The most common misnomers attached to a rape victim is that the freedom and independence offered to a girl necessarily leads to her being raped, that women should not go out for work at night and if she is being raped at night while going or returning from the workplace, it is necessarily her fault. There is another dominant misconception that women’s dresses are the main cause behind rape. The thinking process of society needs to be changed. They should stand for the victim, help her to get rid of this disastrous situation, encourage her. A research on community’s perception toward rape and child sexual abuse in Tanzania identified six key categories in the community’s perceptions of the rape of women and children: a) rape is a common and hidden problem, b) abandoning traditional values and modeling Western behavior contributes to rape, c) suboptimal child care contributes to child rape, d) survivors of rape are blamed for disclosure of the act, e) insufficient, costly and corrupt support services are a barrier to help-seeking, f) collaboration of key stakeholders is needed to improve help-seeking. These perceptions are very similar to the perceptions of Bangladeshis. A random facebook discussion even shows that people blame dresses, makeovers, attitudes of a female as the main reason of rape. Moreover, the criminal justice system of Bangladesh is inaccessible and unaffordable to a big majority of individuals. As a result, these six categories as identified in Tanzania also holds true for Bangladeshi society.
Counseling and group support programs have been shown to be helpful after sexual assault, especially where there may be complicating factors related to the abuse itself or the recovery process. There is some evidence that a short cognitive-behavioral program conducted immediately after attack can increase the rate of psychological trauma-related harm recovery. Short-term therapy and treatment programs are not adequate for full recovery from acts of sexual abuse, which often require considerable further assessment and care.
Sex education in school level can play a major role in identifying good touch and bad touch, prescribing how to save oneself while in that situation, how to behave properly and what to do if anyone offers them or forces them to a sexual conduct. Moreover, awareness programs against rape can be conducted by the legal authorities, NGOs etc. in the schools, colleges and universities so that the students could be aware of sexual harassment and rape and aware others. In addition, Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU), historically known as the second parliament of Bangladesh, very recently made a feasible four points demand to the Honorable Home Minister on rape prevention when a second year female student of the University of Dhaka was raped in Kurmitola on 5th January, 2020. These demands are: I) arresting the offender within 24 hours, II) taking necessary measures to prevent this kind of brutality in future, III) establishing “Counter Rape & Violence against Women Cell”, IV) arranging awareness programs and social movements against rape organized by the Ministry of Home Affairs and to aware people about preventing rape. Even though the demand no. 1 was immediately fulfilled, the other demands are yet to be fulfilled.
Furthermore, “Women and Families Center” of Meriden has stated some prevention techniques. They are: a) Know that silence is not equal to consent; b) Don’t blame rape victims for the violence perpetrated against them; c) Take responsibility for your own sexuality; don’t let it be defined by your partner, the media, or anyone else; d) Do not use alcohol and/or drugs to get someone to have sex with you; e) Do not participate in sexist behavior by objectifying or stereotyping women; f) Teach everyone you know about the myths and realities of sexual violence; g) Interrupt rape jokes; h) Challenge images of violence against women in advertising, pornography, professional wrestling, and other forms of media; i) Support women and men working to end sexual violence by volunteering your time, donating money, and/or lobbying legislators; j) Recognize that sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution. The Bangladeshi families and societies can learn particular lessons from these strategies. Because when a female is a victim of rape, people first blame the victim why she got out at night or pointed on her dress-up. Even in this modern century, our society follow a very savage thought about a female’s freedom of work, freedom of choice, freedom of living and many on. But it is important to break these taboos that promotes sexual violence through positive social movements, to stand beside women in every sphere of our society, make sure they can live and move freely and securely.
Endnotes1. Andrew Karmen, Crime Victims: An Introduction to Victimology (5th ed, Belmont, CA : Wadsworth/Thomson Learning 2004) 2. Foa EB, Hearst-Ikeda D and Perry KJ, 'Evaluation of a brief cognitive-behavioural program for the prevention of chronic PTSD in recent assault victims' (1995) 63(6) Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 948–955
Sakin Tavir is a third year student at the Department of Criminology, University of Dhaka. His research interest lies in the criminal justice system of Bangladesh.