Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 174, 15 October 2020

Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
Sheetal Prasad

 In the news
On 10 October, Bangladesh erupted against the sexual violence against women with a call for "Hang the Rapists" and "No mercy to rapists." During the recent weeks, there have been a series of protests on multiple incidents of violence against violence and State failure. As government data combines violence against women with "women and child repression" with no clarity on rape statistics, Rights group Ain o Salish Kendra, revealed 975 women have been raped till now in 2020 with one-fifth of them being gang rapes. 

The protests have increased after the revelation of a series of rapes in the recent past starting from 25 September when a person from the student wing of the ruling party was alleged for gang rape in Sylhet. On 2 September a gang rape of a girl from Noakhali was recorded who was also subjected to extortion later. A furore followed when this video went online on 4 October and protests ensued. An Advocate from Barisal was arrested who has been reported of raping a transgender from 5 February to 2 October this year.

Issues at large
First, a tradition of impunity where the country has exhibited a deep underlying structural, social and behavioural misogyny. Rape has become an expression of the socio-political power relation. The idea of consent is misconstrued, and women's dress is blamed as evident in the popular actor Ananta Jalil's recent statement. A criminal lawyer, Faruk Ahmed, recently blamed unemployment and lack of red light areas for the rising trend of rapes in Bangladesh. The police force being male-dominated and ill sensitized refuse to accept the incident as a serious offence to the extent of not even filing the case and victim-blaming. 

Second, gaping loopholes in the legal framework in Bangladesh. Culprits evade the law due to long drawn cases which only adds to the victim's stigmatization and humiliation due to section 155(4) of the Evidence Act 1872, which blames her for an immoral character. This ends up in the trial of the victim rather than the culprit. Quite unsurprisingly, the conviction rate stands at 3 per cent. 

Police statistics state that 10.57 daily rape cases had been filed on an average between 2014 to 2018, while the actual figures continue to be evasive due to under-reporting. Section 365 of the colonial-era Penal Code of 1860 narrowly defines rape as gender-specific and criminalizes marital rape only if she is under the age of thirteen. Despite three subsequent reforms of 1983, 1995 and 2000 by three different governments of Ershad, BNP and Awami League respectively, rape laws continue to be archaic, and the statutory age of consent stands at sixteen. Moreover, after a gang rape incident in a microbus in Dhaka in 2015, Bangladesh High Court in 2018 issued guidelines for handling rape cases which is still rarely followed.

Third, call for a social overhaul. Mobilizing against rape in a morally bankrupt society is a challenge, but systemic changes are required for a long-term change. Though the government on 12th October 2020 approved the death penalty for rape offenders through an ordinance, activists are far from satisfied as they believe this would only increase murders after rape keeping the conviction rate as it is.

In perspective
There is an urgent need for government interventions like gender sensitization among government officials, sex education in schools, ensuring psychosexual support to victims and constituting a Commission for rape as mandated by the High Court in January 2020. 

Clamours are to pass long-awaited sexual harassment and witness protection bills. Moreover, a societal dialogue has to begin for a radical restructuring of the social order facilitated by civil society organizations in the long run.

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh

April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists
November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees

May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal
January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar