04/01/2022 Bangladesh (International Christian Concern) – Women in Bangladesh are facing the horrific trend of being raped and ultimately forced to marry their rapists. In Bangladesh, women and minor girls victims of sexual assault are ostracized and often have their cases ignored. Many victims grow frustrated with the lengthy and unprecedented time it takes to deliver justice to their rapists. The rapists then take the opportunity to marry their victims to escape potential punishment.
Human rights lawyer Rina Parvin spoke to UCA News about this reality that she terms “a miscarriage of justice.” She declares that “this is unacceptable from a legal or moral point of view. It is in no way sympathetic to the victim who has endured physical and mental abuse. It is clear that the perpetrators resort to such methods only to escape punishment. The victim was raped before the court trial, and now she will be raped repeatedly.”
Ain-O-Salish Kendra is a legal aid and human rights group out of Dhaka. The group reported 1,413 rape cases in 2019 and 1,728 in 2020. The hellacious number of cases, mixed with nationwide protests over the years, ultimately prompted the government to change the maximum punishment for rape from life in prison to the death penalty in 2020. Some would assume this would deter the perpetrators and drastically reduce the number of cases. Yet in 2021, 1,321 women were victims of rape and gang rape. Of these, 40 were killed after rape and nine committed suicide. While the number of cases was reduced and hints at a downward trend, the number is still appalling. Moreover, Parvin suggests that law enforcement officials are ambivalent about bringing the perpetrators to justice. She told UCA News, “In a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, males always want to save males, but lawyers need to stand for truth and justice. Our legal system needs to change so that a rapist is never exempted from punishment and allowed to marry a rape victim.”
We pray for the government and police to adopt the integrity needed to speedily bring these rapists to justice and foster change in the atrocious reality for so many women in Bangladesh.