Rape incidents continue even after enacting death punishment

Culture of impunity should be stopped, say experts

23 January 2021

Gulam Rabbani :
The government has reformed the law annexing the use of the death penalty as punishment for rape. But impact of the reform is not visible in the society. A series of recent rape incidents are the main evidences of this.
After a rape incident happened in Noakhali, widespread protests against rapes, sexual harassment and violence against women spread across the country in last October. Then a demand was raised by the protesters and many stakeholders to include death penalty in the law as a punishment for this offence.
The government accepted the demand after an intense movement and the Parliament on November 17 last year passed the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2020, incorporating death penalty as the highest punishment for rape.
Following the enactment of this law, several courts across the country have pronounced death penalty for crime  like rape. But the incidents of rape continue in the society.
According to the Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a rights organization, a total of 197 women were raped in the month of November last year though the amendment was made in that month. And 81 women were raped in December last year.
A total of 1627 women were raped or gang-raped in 2020 across the country. Among them 53 women were killed after rape and 14 women committed suicide, said a report of the organization. In 2019 the number of the rape victim was 1413 and in 2018 it was 732.
A recent incident of rape has brought the issue to the fore. An O-level student of Mastermind School died allegedly after rape at Dhanmondi in the capital on January 7 this year. The dead is Anushka Nur Amin, 16, of Dhanmondi area in the city.
Anuska's relatives claimed that Anushka was picked up by her friend Dihan and was taken to the rooftop of his house where she was raped. They alleged that she died from bleeding profusely after rape.
After conducting the autopsy, Dr Sohel Mahmud, Head of the Forensic Department of the Dhaka Medical College, told the reporters on the following day that the female O-level student was raped and she died due to hemorrhagic shock and excessive bleeding.
Apart from this, multiple incidents of rape are happening in different parts of the country almost every day. Different media are publishing reports on those incidents.
Rights activists say that death penalty is not the answer to the rape problem of the country. They say it's a bad decision, not only because capital punishment is inherently inhumane and should be abolished, but because it is not a real solution to sexual violence.
Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, said, "Crime cannot be reduced by severe punishment. Criminal science doesn't support such idea."
He also said, "The practice of impunity is increasing the crime rate in the society. If you have a contact with the influential people, you can be acquitted after committing any type of crime. This practice is sending the wrong message to the society."
 "There must be a society where the rule of law will be the key. There is still a rule of law in our society, but only by name," added Professor Mizanur Rahman.
Rights activist and also the President of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA) Advocate Salma Ali said, "Environment and social values influence human brain. But the elements that create negative thinking are not being controlled in our society. As a result, crime is increasing; incident like rape is also increasing."
"Death penalty is not any solution. It might be misused in many cases. Speedy trial is needed for this offence. The procrastination of the judicial process must be reduced. The accused are taking the advantage of procrastination of trial process," said the lawyer.

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