“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
I will not start with any statistical figure on rape rather a single event. Quoting an incident is enough to show the extreme deterioration of our society. Prothom-Alo has reported on 9 April, 2019 that a two and half year old girl had been raped in Faridpur by 19 year old boy. There are a lot of problems and issues in Bangladesh. Among them, countless rapes and road accidents are two broad issues that can be found on every day newspapers. Society has gone utterly wrong indeed since there is no light of hope of solution of these problems. Incidents of rape have been normalized in Bangladesh. It has increased over the years. New dimensions were added to rape. Style, techniques, age, mode and place of crimes have also been revised. Rise of Hercules got a mixed reaction. Though, it clearly gave a message to us that state is totally unable to protect its citizens. But whole responsibility of rape issue in Bangladesh should not be imposed upon government where a number of citizens also have direct involvement and indirect motivation. What has changed that fueled sexual violence and assaults in Bangladesh recently? There is a lengthy debate over this question. I will try to put some insights from my point of view over this social disease.
Despite all causes behind the increase of number of rape, the downfalls of our social institutions are the center of this crime. These institutions may range from social values, family structure, decline in native culture and bewildering negative aspects of globalization, bad political cultural influence in every sphere of life, lack of credibility over traditional law-enforcing agencies, dimensional changes in the conception of justice, worship to power instead of justice are a few.
Bangladesh has emerged as one of the economically rising countries recently. From material point of view, Bangladesh has achieved enormous wealth in a short span of time. Bangladesh has a long past of intellectual developments in history. For saying, Bangladesh is one of the Muslim majority headed countries but unlike other Muslim majority countries, practice of Islam in Bangladesh has found a flexible ground and level of tolerance was high before British Colonial Raj. But new wave of globalization has broken down our traditional past which was very rich. This material aspired vision of Bangladesh has brought itself into the highway of changes. Bangladesh has shown huge changes its physical world from territorial division to infrastructural development, technological progression and many more visual things. Unfortunately at the same time, mental growth of our society has not seen notable positive transformation. This imbalance between physical and mental world have paved the way for social dysfunction. Our rich social values are falling apart by new misleading values which were created from this imbalance.
Despite all causes behind the increase of number of rape, the downfalls of our social institutions are the center of this crime. These institutions may range from social values, family structure, decline in native culture and bewildering mnegative aspects of globalization, bad political cultural influence in every sphere of life, lack of credibility over traditional law-enforcing agencies, dimensional changes in the conception of justice, worship to power instead of justice are a few
Why people are so tough nowadays to understand? This is because of the dysfunctional shift in our mental world. Our previous values have been washed away with intolerance, disrespect to traditional wisdom, irreligious values, over independence and self-centered mindsets (individualism), unfair competition, excessive loyalty to power, thrust for material gain, abandoning truth as unfit for newly emerged physical world. If we relate rape with these values, we will find a clear ligature. When a 2.5 years girl is raped, it is unusual in our culture. Why this kind of event is taking place in our society quite frequently? This is because of abandonment of our moral guidelines from the sources of our predecessors, religious manuscriptsand Bengali culture. Instead of practicing our vast rich sources of moral values and norms, our society has chosen the pathway of corrupted western culture in the name of self-development and enlightenment. Sexual violence has become a normal phenomenon in the west. They give birth of children first and then marry! So, sexual intercourse is not a big deal except some special situation there. We are following western material culture but most of our mental world still cannot accept their common practices. From this confusion and maladjustment, a number of Bengali sons went wrong. Pornography is available now in our society with free access to technological devices. Wide availability of this sex instigating commodity has led our society to an unhygienic situation. Apart from technological development, we should ensure its proper utilization. Government should not shatter opposition parties and dissents in internet rather prevent misusage of internet. It is true that current government has taken some steps to counter propaganda but most of those activities are related to regime interest not national interest. Mainly we could not develop any exclusive guiding principles to counter dysfunctional changes. Rapid changes in physical world have shaken our social structure which was vital for our existence as a good soul. All western culture is not the worst. In the case of rape incident, we do not feel sorry for victims rather demonize victim girls as undesirable in our society. This blame culture rewards offenders and demoralizes victims. Immorality has reached to the point of bankruptcy.
Apart from social dysfunctions, state has a certain level of responsibility for the increment of rape as a legal guardian of the citizens. There is 147 years old blasphemy discriminatory British law in Bangladeshi to trial rapist criminals. Former Chief Justice Shurendra Kumar Sinha repentantly said that, “what can be the more unfortunate than this when the accused during trial raise questions about the character of a woman who seek justice after losing her honour?” This single statement shows the miserable condition of our judiciary branch which is entitled to ensure justice for all. News sources have assured that police has refused to file rape case in many cases. This is really very concerning when a legal channel of justice and order is blocked and unreliable. Two years back, a female police officer burnt herself after losing her chastity to another male police officer. She demanded justice but refused by others! It is more horrible to seek justice in the case of general people being lower class in terms of money and power. Local politicians are well engaged in most of the rape incidents. Recently police and politicians have emerged as an alliance on the principle of violations of laws. They actively cooperate with criminals and at the same time use their all means of power to shunt victims. It is very common to fix up rape incidents locally by giving small amount of money to victim families. Police let politicians to arrange such a village court to trial criminals. Naturally these informal village courts victimize victims one more time and reward rapists further. Female are the heads of various sectors in Bangladesh but actual empowerment of women is not materializing in Bangladesh.They are empowered with monetary value not social value. There is a common misperception that patriarchy is a commodity of male persons. But in reality both men and women use this patriarchy as a powerful tool to strengthen their power. That is the reason why a number of female participation in Bangladesh could not secure women’s safety and security.
Media’s sensational representation of rape victims is immoral and unethical in journalism. Though readers also have influence on media authority. Readers want to know more about victims and how rape incident has taken place. Victims’ Security and privacy are violated. Though media are helping to raise awareness and catching some powerful criminals in previous time. Media can their level best to expose rapists and create social movement through long term agenda. In conclusion, we can say that the deviation of social institutions has enormous impact upon increasing rape incidents in Bangladesh.
The author is studying International Relations at University of Dhaka.