BANGLADESH: Gang rape of woman by 14 police personnel

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: UA-179-2004
ISSUES: Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you of the gang rape of a woman by police personnel in Chuadanga, Bangladesh. On the night of 18 December 2004, 14 policemen from the Gokulkhali outpost in Chuadanga are alleged to have gang raped Dali Khatun after they picked her up from the Dolaipur area where she was waiting to return home after visiting her cousin. As a result of her injuries, the victim is now being treated at Chuadanga Sadar Hospital.

However, the local authorities’ action about this case is questionable. Initial findings by the police and a medical team employed to investigate this matter, concluded that no rape took place. However, these findings by the police and the medical team have now been reversed, with both publicly acknowledging that the rape did indeed occur. This came about only after local human rights groups created huge public pressure to have the matter looked into further. As a result, five policemen of Gokulkhali Police Camp, who had earlier been suspected, were arrested on Tuesday December 21 for the rape of Dali Khutan.

While the Asian Human Rights Commission welcomes these arrests, we are deeply concerned that they may not be followed through properly. Likewise we are also concerned that the remaining nine police personnel also accused of raping the victim, are currently walking free, having not been arrested for their crimes.

The AHRC writes to you seeking your urgent intervention into this case. We are extremely concerned by the premature conclusion initially reached by the police probe and medical team that dismissed the charge of rape, despite evidence to the contrary. The AHRC therefore asks you to write to the government of Bangladesh demanding that an independent and thorough investigation be conducted into this case. Please also urge the Bangladesh authorities that the responsible officers be prosecuted and punished under the Prevention of Repression against Women and Children Act 2000 and Speedy Trial Tribunal Act 2002. Additionally, the victim and witnesses should be provided with proper protection whilst the investigation is taking place, and the victim given full compensation for this brutal attack.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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DETAILED INFORMATION:

Names of the victims: Dali Khatun
Alleged perpetrators: 1) Camp in-charge Abdul Kuddus, 2) Havilders Harun-ar-Rashid, 3) Habildar Rokanuzzaman, 4) Shakil, 5) Constable Harun, 6) Iftekhar, 7) Kabir, 8) Saiful, 9) Sohel Rana – plus other police personnel of the Gokulkihali camp.
Date of incident: 18 December 2004
Place of incident: Gokhulkhali outpost, Chuadanga, Bangladesh

Case details:

Gokulkhali police camp in-charge, ASI Abdul Kuddus and Habildar Rokunuzzaman, picked up 20-year-old Dali Khatun, the wife of Ator Ali of Bishnupur village, from the Dolaipur area at about 8:30pm on 18 December 2004. The victim had been waiting for a rickshaw van at Dolaipur crossing to return home from Chuadanga town after meeting with her cousin. The police took her to the Gokulkalhi camp and proceeded to gang rape her.

The victim reported: “After gagging me with a piece of cloth, they raped me by turns and beat me throughout the night¬°¬¶.They raped me again in a field near the police camp.”

A number of villagers living near the camp said on condition of anonymity that they heard the victim’s screams for help on the Saturday night, but that they did not dare to go to her rescue. The only witness to the gang rape, Akram Hossain, reported the incident soon after it happened, but later withdrew his complaint when the police probe questioned him.

Following the repeated rape at and near the police outpost, Abdul Kuddus and Habildar Rokunuzzaman took the victim to the house of one Farhad, who lives in the area, and asked him to send the victim to hospital. Before leaving, the policemen warned the victim against reporting the incident. The victim was taken to Alamdanga Upazila Health Complex, but was later transferred to Chuadanga Sadar Hospital. During the early period of her treatment, the victim’s husband filed a case with Alamdanga Thana accusing 14 policemen of raping his wife. All 14 policemen are stationed at the Gokulkhali camp.

An initial police probe into the rape case, headed by Chuadanga Additional Superintendent of Police, Awlad Hossain, concluded that the police did not rape the woman. “We are sure the woman was not raped,” Awlad told a local newspaper, The Daily Star, on 21 December 2004. However, despite concluding that no rape had taken place, the district police authorities suspended eight policemen including Kuddus and Rokunuzzaman, along with Constables Haru, Rashid, Iftekhar, Kabir, Saiful and Sohel Rana.

At the same time, a medical examination conducted by a three member team headed by Dr Saidur Rahman (the other members of the team are Dr Nolor Uddin and Nurse Super Ismat Ara) of Chuadanga Sadar Hospital concluded that there was no proof of rape. This despite one of the team members anonymously reporting at the time that “we have seen some injury marks in the woman’s genital passage that prove something has been forced into it”. The same team member also reported that the woman was still bleeding as a result of her injuries.

Local people, human rights groups, trade unions and other non-governmental organisations in Chuadanga rejected the findings of both the police probe and the medical examination and accused authorities of a cover up involving this case. These same individuals and groups demanded a judicial probe into the incident and immediate removal of the health officials that carried out the medical examination.

Perhaps as a result of this pressure, and the demand for a new inquiry, police authorities have now officially acknowledged that a rape did indeed take place and have subsequently arrested five policemen in regards to this. Likewise, the same medical team that initially denied evidence of rape has now officially acknowledged that the woman was raped.

Local protestors remain outraged that proper action has only been taken as a result of their pressure. They also pointed out that no step has yet been taken to try the accused under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter, fax or email to the government of Bangladesh expressing your concern regarding this case. Please also forward a copy of that letter to the other relevant authorities listed below.

1. Mrs. Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Prime Minister’s Office
Old Parliament House,
Tejgaon, Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 8828160-79, 9888677
Fax: +880 2 8113244, 811015, 8113243
E-mail: pm@pmobd.org or psecretary@pmobd.org (to the Secretary)

2. Prof. Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed
President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,
Bangabhaban,
Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 9566242

3. Mr. Barrister Moudud Ahmed
Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 8618557
E-mail: minoflaw@bdonline.com

4. Mr. Md. Lutfozzaman Babar
State Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 8619667 / 9552323

5. Mr. Altaf Hossain Choudhury
Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat (Building No. 8), Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 7164611 /8614611 or 8614633
Fax: +880 2 8619667 / 8614788 or 955 2323

6. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
OHCHR-UNOG
Palais Wilson, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9022

 

 

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SAMPLE LETTER

Dear _________,

BANGLADESH: Gang rape of woman by fourteen police personnel

Names of the victims: Dali Khatun
Alleged perpetrators: 1) Camp in-charge Abdul Kuddus, 2) Havilders Harun-ar-Rashid, 3) Habildar Rokanuzzaman, 4) Shakil, 5) Constable Harun, 6) Iftekhar, 7) Kabir, 8) Saiful, 9) Sohel Rana – plus other police personnel of the Gokulkihali camp.
Date of incident: 18 December 2004
Place of incident: Gokhulkhali outpost, Chuadanga, Bangladesh

I am writing to express my shock regarding the barbaric gang rape of a woman by police personnel in Chuadanga, Bangladesh. On the night of 18 December 2004, 14 policemen from the Gokulkhali outpost in Chuadanga are alleged to have gang raped Dali Khatun as she was travelling to her in-law’s house at Bishnupur in Damurhuda Upazila. As a result of her injuries, the victim is now being treated at Chuadanga Sadar Hospital.

I am aware that initial findings by a police probe and a medical team employed to investigate this matter, concluded that no rape took place. I am also aware that these findings have been reversed and that both the police and the medical team have since stated that evidence suggests that the rape did indeed occur. My concern however is that this reversal of decision came only after local human rights groups, trade unions and other non-governmental organisations created huge public pressure to have the matter investigated properly. If this is true, am I to conclude that had these local groups not responded, then the apparent cover up by the police and the medical team, would have gone unchallenged and that this woman would have never received justice for the violation committed against her?

As I am sure you are no doubt aware, this is not the first case of the rape of a woman by Bangladesh’s law enforcement personnel. Since 1 January 2000, there have been a reported 35 women raped by law enforcement personnel in the country. Of them, 13 were raped in the year 2000, 8 in 2001, 7 in 2002, and 6 in 2003. Thus, this recent case is yet another violation of women in Bangladesh by the very people who are employed to protect them.

Therefore, I write to you to express my deep concern regarding this case. While I welcome the arrest of the five policemen regarding this rape, I am very much worried by the apparent lack of justice to those remaining nine officers who the victim has reported were also involved in her rape.

With this in mind, I ask that you order an independent and thorough investigation to be conducted into this case. If it is found that the police personnel did indeed rape the victim, then I ask that you ensure full exemplary punishment under the Prevention of Repression against Women and Children Act 2000 and Speedy Trial Tribunal Act 2002 to all those responsible for this rape. Likewise, doctors found negligent in their duties should also be punished in accordance with the law. Additionally, I ask that the victim and her family be provided with proper protection whilst the investigation is taking place, and be given full compensation for this brutal attack. Finally, I urge you to do more in regards to the rape of women by law enforcement personnel, which has been a far too common occurrence in your country in recent years.

Sincerely yours,

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Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-179-2004
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Sexual violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,