Police in Bangladesh have arrested a man suspected of raping a university student in the capital Dhaka – an incident that sparked protest across the capital.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the elite police force, said they arrested the suspect, believed to be a “serial rapist”, on Wednesday.
“He earlier raped [a] few street beggars and women with physical disabilities. He confessed his crime to us,” Mizanur Rahman, an official with the legal and media wing of RAB, told a packed news briefing in Dhaka.
The rape of the second-year student from Dhaka University – the largest public university in Bangladesh – on Sunday made the headlines in local media.
Thousands of students from Dhaka University took to the street for two consecutive days, demanding justice for the rape victim.
They formed a large human chain near Shahbagh in the capital on Tuesday, demanding greater safety of women on the roads.
Their placards read: “No more rape, we want justice”, “We want to see the ultimate punishment for the rapist”, “We demand justice for our sister”.
Four students went on a hunger strike and the protesters gave the government an ultimatum of 48 hours to make the arrest.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (or the Bangladesh Women Council) – a national non-political and voluntary women’s organisation – voiced their support for the Dhaka University students.
The victim was attacked on Sunday by the suspected rapist in Kurmitola area of Dhaka where she had gone to meet her friend.
She was grabbed from behind on a relatively secluded section of the road, gagged and taken to a nearby bush where she was raped multiple times.
She was later able to flee the crime scene and her friends took her to Dhaka Medical Hospital where doctors found evidence of rape.
Incidents of rape and violence against women are not new in Bangladesh.
According to a report by Ain O Salish Kendra – a non-government watchdog – at least 1,351 women were raped in Bangladesh between January and November last year. Of the rape victims, at least 66 were murdered after the rape.
Faisal Mahmud contributed to this report from Dhaka