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Stop the violators of women’s dignity

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Barrister Quazi Maruful Alam & Nazia Rahman
Another gang rape and murder has been committed on a moving bus in Tangail mimicking exactly the Delhi gang rape. Unfortunately, one after another women and children are raped, tortured and murdered in Bangladesh creating only some social ripples relegated to rhetoric alone. As the rape incidents expand its snares in our country, it inevitably brings our attention to its endemic sexual violence nature.
Recent incident of rape in Bogra, where the rape victim and her mother were made bald, is not less dramatic than any Bollywood or Dhakai B grade movies. Interesting point is that: this is the first time, I guess, in the history of Bangladesh a wife of the rapist beat and shaved a teenager as punishment after she was allegedly gang raped by the wife's husband as if it was her fault to get raped.
In our country when women get raped everyone point their finger at them instead of pointing at the rapists. Blaming women for rape is what hundreds of millions of men here are taught to believe. The reason behind this irrational culture is some ‘rape myths’ which are prevalent in our society. Rape myths are erroneous, stereotypical, prejudicial beliefs about reasons of sexual assaults, rapists, and rape victims, which serve to justify sexual aggression.
Myth: Sexual assault is an act of lust and passion that can't be controlled.
Fact: In the context of Bangladesh it is the sense of impunity which mainly encourages rape. The people affiliated with politicians and influential people are more prone to commit rape. They feel that they don't need to control their urge as they have money; power and connection which eventually give them a license to commit rape .They are ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’ individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them and inflict violence, humiliation and degradation. However, countries which follow strict Sharia law for rape or capital punishment represent a lower rate of rape. It indicates that if people are aware that they will be punished mercilessly irrespective of their position in the society, they can control the beast inside them.
Myth: You can tell a rapist by the way he looks.
Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. In many cases well known professors of leading Universities or religious Leaders/Guru/Imam in our country are found to be charged with rape who, even in the wildest dream of the victims ,do not look like rapist. The rapists have a very good talent to mask their intention in order to prey their victim.
Myth:  Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner.
Fact: Though to some extent provocative dress instigate a pervert mind and give them an excuse to rape, it cannot explain the rape of 3 years old child, the rape and murder of Tanu who used to wear Hizab or the rape of an bed soared old woman. It is true that many rapists in their interview try to blame the victim for wearing provocative clothes or for flirting with them but that can be an acceptable sole excuse. “A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o’clock at night. ... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes,” Mukesh Singh said in the documentary, “India’s Daughter. The perpetrator selects the victim - the victim’s behavior or clothing choices do not mean that they are consenting to sexual activity.”
Myth: Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.
Fact: A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time. You never know from where that is coming. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: a neighbor, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner or ex-partner. People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe. Many of the unreported case confirmed that rape or sexual harassment might even occur from the close family members who have got access to our house. This kind of incidents goes unreported for saving social respect and family pride .Women specially children are most vulnerable in this regard as they cannot even express to their parents that they were harassed by their close relatives  and in some cases even it was informed to their parents ,none believes them.
Myth: A rape survivor will be battered, bruised, and hysterical.
Fact: Many rape victims will not be visibly injured. Sometimes threat of violence forces a woman to submit, sometimes they may be blackmailed or their family member's life was at stake. There are many reasons why a victim might not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of the attacker. She may feel that fighting or resisting will make her attacker angry, resulting in more severe injury. Immediate reactions after a rape may also vary. Some rape survivors remain controlled, numb, in shock, denial disbelief. They present a flat affect, quiet, reserved, and have difficulties expressing themselves. Other rape survivors respond quite differently -- being very expressive and verbalizing feelings of sadness or anger.State protection alone is unable to protect women from sexual assault unless men tend to change their mind setup. Men should stop objectifying women and instead of finding fault in women's attire need to lower their gaze as prescribed in our religious scriptures. Unfortunately, men's mind set up which carrying the patriarchal belief cannot be changed overnight. Therefore, as long as state fails to protect women from sexual violence, they need to protect themselves. Women need to understand “Men are Men” and as long as men are not changing their mind set up, reliance on them blindly can cause a life time mistake. n

(Barrister Quazi Maruful Alam and Nazia Rahman, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Assistant Professor,
State University of Bangladesh)

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