An article by Nafiz Chowdhury published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
BANGLADESH: A discussion on the rape of the nine year old child
My article ‘It is your daughter, so what?’ drew some response. One response was to deny the incident of rape and the wrong response of the Member of Parliament altogether. The writer was of the view that this was a fake story and that kind of thing does not happen in Bangladesh. The second response was more apologetic. The writer admitted that such things often happens in Bangladesh but felt these things should not be spoken of outside the country. He was concerned with the bad image that may be created for the country by reporting such incidents. The third response was from a person outside Bangladesh. He identified himself as a person from neighboring Sri Lanka. He stated that similar things happens in his country also and many other countries. He attributed such incidents to the ‘system’ and not to the individuals. He suggested that system should change and that everyone should work to change the system. It is worth spending a while on these three positions.
As for the person who thought that the incident was a fake I refer to full details of the incident published by the Asian Human Rights Commission. Please see the statement at http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2010statements/2745/. The original complaint made by the family to the police is also available. The incident was also reported in several local publications in Bangladesh. What is really sadly ignorant is the idea that “Such things do not happen” in Bangladesh! Anyone who is aware of the level of lawlessness and corruption of the police know, the extent of sexual harassment against woman spread through the country. Such attacks on women and even small girls are possible only because of the failures in the rule of law.
The second position, need a more sympathetic comment. That such an incident should not be reported because it may be bad for the country’s image. We live in a global village. It is not possible to hide our faults in order to give a better image for the country. It is far better to have an open debate about our problems with view to correct them. Frank admissions of what is wrong and the courage to condemn that wrong wins admiration not shame. What is shameful is not to extend a hand to the victims of such abuse. The little girl that has suffered abuse and the family need support from the society. It is a great virtue to support victims of abuse. Is that not what our great intellectuals like Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam would do? We do ourselves honour by fighting against injustice not by hiding such acts of injustice. Let the world see that we are quite capable of being critical of ourselves.
As for the final perspective, yes, the bad ‘system’ is responsible for the occurrence of the incidents. However, systems functions through individuals. Individual wrong doers need to accept responsibility for wrongs they do. The rapist, the police who protect such rapists and not do their duty to arrest and to prosecute and the member of parliament who uses her influence in order to stop the police from doing their duty, are all responsible for what they do. In order to change the bad system, we need to hold all of them responsible for what they do.
The original article by this author may be seen at www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2010statements/2746/
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.