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BANGLADESH: Rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Munshiganj district

December 19, 2005

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION- URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal

19 December 2005

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UA-240-2005: BANGLADESH: Rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Munshiganj district

BANGLADESH: Rape; violation against children and woman
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the alleged raped of a 16-year-old girl belonging to a minority community by a young Muslim man in Basudia village, Munshiganj district on 1 November 2005.

The victim, Ms. X (name withheld), was on her way home after attending class at the Baliganon High School when the alleged perpetrator, M. Ibrahim Dewan (25), stopped her and forced her to a paddy field where she was allegedly raped. The perpetrator was a neighbor of the victim. After the incident, the victim was abandoned and sustained injuries to her genitalia. She was later rescued by two of her neighbors who saw her and took her home.

After the news of the victim’s alleged rape broke out, hundreds of outraged villagers and the victim’s fellow students went to M. Ibrahim Dewan’s house and took him to the Baligaon High School, where he was briefly held. The school officials then informed the police authorities and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that they were holding Ibrahim the school premises. He was later turned over to the Lauhajang police station.

Although the police have charged Ibrahim for violation of section 9(1) of the Women and Child Repression Prevention (Revised) Act of 2003, the AHRC is concerned that the victim has not been afforded appropriate treatment for the trauma she suffered and appropriate protection. It was learned that the victim is forced to stay with her relatives for fear of her security and feeling of societal stigma. Her family is also in shock. None of these factors have been taken into consideration by the relevant authorities.

We urge your strong intervention to ensure that appropriate trauma treatment, medical assistance and protection are afforded to the victim. Please also urge the concerned authorities to ensure the speedy disposition of the victim’s case in court. The concerned government agencies must take steps to ensure that the victim can continue her education safely and without any discrimination.


Urgent Appeals programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

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DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of the victim: Ms. X (Name withheld), 16 years old, living in Basudia village, P.O. Baligaon, under Lauhajang police station in Munshiganj district
Name of alleged perpetrator: M. Ibrahim Dewan (25), son of M. Siddique Dewan, living in Basudia village, P.O. Baligaon, under Lauhajang police station in Munshiganj district
Date and place of incident: 1 November 2005 at a paddy field near the graveyard between Fulkachi and Basudia villages

Case details:

On 1 November 2005, at around 10am Ms X was on her way home to Basudia village after attending class at the Baligaon High School when the alleged perpetrator, M. Ibrahim Dewan, stopped her and forced her to a paddy field where she was allegedly raped. After the incident, Ibrahim left Ms X lying on the ground with severe genital bleeding, while Ibrahim was seen by two men – namely Baishrista (36) and Sattya Narayan (29) leaving from the location the two men later found the victim at. They then took her home.

When the news of the rape incident broke out, hundreds of outraged villagers and the fellow students of Ms X went to the perpetrator’s house. They then took Ibrahim to Baliganon High School where they briefly held him. The school officials later informed the police authorities and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that they have detained Ibrahim for allegedly raping Ms X. Ibrahim was first taken to the Togi Bari police station but was then turned over to Lauhajang police.

On that same day, the Officer in Charge (OC) of the Lauhajang police station charged Ibrahim for violation of section 9(1) of the Women and Child Repression Prevention (Revised) Act of 2003. The Lowhajang police took Ms X for a forensic test at the Munshiganj Sadar Hospital. Ms. X was in police custody until the result of the forensic test was completed. She later gave her statement to the Magistrate regarding the incident under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC).

The Investigating Officer of the Lauhajang police station, Sub Inspector Mr. M. Zahidul Haque, told the fact-finding team that they are working on the charge sheet of the case, which is based on Ibrahim’s confession and the result of the forensic test. The charge sheet would be submitted to the court in the coming days.

According to the latest information, Ms X is forced to stay at the house of her aunt’s place in Munshiganj Sadar Upazilla for her security. Ms X’s family and relatives have also suffered severe depression and social stigma following the incident.


SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send an appeal letter to the persons below and express your deep concern about this serious case.

Sample letter:


Dear ___________,

Re: BANGLADESH: Rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Munshiganj district

Name of the victim: Ms. X (Name withheld), 16 years old, living in Basudia village, P.O. Baligaon, under Lauhajang police station in Munshiganj district
Name of alleged perpetrator: M. Ibrahim Dewan (25), son of M. Siddique Dewan, living in Basudia village, P.O. Baligaon, under Lauhajang police station in Munshiganj district
Date and place of incident: 1 November 2005 at a paddy field near the graveyard between Fulkachi and Basudia villages

I am appalled to learn that Ms X, a 16-year-old schoolgirl belonging to a minority community was allegedly raped by a Muslim young man in Basudia village, Munshiganj district on 1 November 2005. I have learned that the victim was on her way home after attending classes at the Baligaon High School when the alleged perpetrator, identified as M. Ibrahim Dewan (25), blocked her way and forced her to a paddy field where she was allegedly raped.

After the incident, Ibrahim was seen by two men, namely Baishrista (36) and Sattya Narayan (29) leaving from where the victim – Ms X – was located. The two men saw the victim lying on the ground bleeding. The two men then took Ms. X to her home. I have learned that Ibrahim is presently detained in Lauhajang police station after the outraged villagers and fellow students of the victim took him from his home.

Even though charges of violation of section 9(1) of the Women and Child Repression Prevention (Revised) Act of 2003 have been laid against the perpetrator, I am deeply concerned for the victim’s welfare, which has not been properly addressed. Ms. X has not been afforded adequate treatment for her injuries and trauma suffered; or appropriate protection for her security.

I am aware that forensic examination has been performed on the victim at the Munshiganj Sadar Hospital, which indicates that the victim may have been raped. While I welcome the perpetrator’s arrest and detention, I am concerned that the government has not properly acted to ensure the victim’s safety. I am aware that the victim is staying with her relatives for security reasons. She also suffered trauma following the incident.

I urge your strong intervention to ensure that Ms X is afforded adequate medical assistance and treatment for the trauma she suffered. She must also be given compensation and appropriate protection while the case is going on. The concerned government agencies must also take steps to ensure that Ms X could continue her education.

I further urge you to ensure the speedy disposition of the victim’s case in court. I likewise urge that the Government of Bangladesh take effective steps to prevent such violence against women from reoccurring, in particular those who belong to minority groups.

I trust that you will take immediate action on this case.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND A LETTER TO:

1. Mr. Abdul Quayum
Inspector General of Police (IGP)
Police Headquarters’
Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-02-9562054, 7176451, 7176677, 8362552 or 8362553
Fax: +88-02-9563362, 9563363

2. Mr. Md. Lutfozzaman Babor
State Minister
The Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Secretariat
Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-02-7169069, 8359000
Fax: + 88-02-7160405, 7164788

3. Mr. A. J. Mohammad Ali
The Attorney General of Bangladesh
The Office of the Attorney General
Supreme Court Building
Ramna, Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-02-9562868
Fax: +88-02-9561568

4. Mr. Syed J. R. Mudassir Husain
The Chief Justice
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Supreme Court Building
Ramna, Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-02-9562792
Fax: +88-02-9565058

5.  Ms Gay Mcdougall
Independent Expert on Minority Issues
c/o Global Rights
1200 18th Street, N.W.  
Suite 602  
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202.822.4600
Fax:  202.822.4606
Email: gaym@globalrights.org

6. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Elimination of violence against women
c/o Ms Lucinda Ohanlon
Room 3-042
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: lohanlon@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeal Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-240-2005
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.