Bangladesh, a country of over 170 million people witnessed unprecedented protests in the last week over growing incidents of sexual assaults all around the country. Following the protests, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved changes to rape laws allowing for the death penalty in rape cases.
On Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the draft bill that states that anyone who is convicted of rape will be punished with a death sentence or face imprisonment for life. The presidential declaration of this law will be given today.
It was the first time the country witnessed such a large-scale protest against sexual violence. The demonstrators who took over the streets demanded urgent reformation of laws to ensure that the cases are being properly investigated and the victims and their witnesses are given full support and protection. They brought forward their ten-point demand to the government.
After the bill was approved, Amnesty international and other organizations came forwards to convey that death penalty is not the solution to rape.
This is because reports have shown that the death penalty decreased the conviction rate and there is more likelihood of murder and violence to increase after rape.
Taking India’s Nirbhaya rape case into account, when the Indian government enforced the death penalty for rapists in 2012, it resulted in a shocking increase in reported rape cases in the following years.
What can be done is to shatter the exiting rape culture in this country. We should call out behaviors that normalize rape culture.
Although rape is not a context that exists only in the boundary of our subcontinent, incessant victim shaming is. And it is the fear of this stigmatization that keeps women and children from reporting these heinous crimes.
Consent and sex education should be made mandatory in high schools and it is the responsibility of both the parents and educational institutions to instigate that every human being should be respected and treated with compassion.
Show your support to the following organizations who are working to provide rape survivors with support centers:
- Ain-O-Shalish Kendra: http://www.askbd.org/ask/
- Nair Progoti Sangha:https://www.bnps.org/
- Bangladesh Legal Aid Service Trust:https://www.bnps.org/