The Stream

Why are women raped with impunity in Bangladesh?

On Monday, October 12 at 19:30 GMT:
Anger over a viral video of a woman being stripped, beaten and sexually assaulted by nine men in Bangladesh, as she begged for mercy, has brought thousands of people to the streets.

Demonstrators are now demanding justice for women who have been raped and sexually assaulted, and an end to what they say is a culture of impunity. The video, filmed on September 2, was shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook before a court ordered it removed.

“This truly disturbing footage demonstrates the shocking violence that women in the country are routinely being subjected to,” rights group Amnesty International says, while calling for an impartial investigation.

Women’s rights activists were already angered by a gang rape, which also came to light in September, committed by members of the ruling Awami League Party. The government has been criticised for inaction.

According to local human rights organisation Ain-o-Salish Kendra, there were 975 rape cases reported from January to September of this year, but the rights group says it is unlikely even a fraction of those attacked got justice. The One Stop Crisis Centre says that between January 2001 and July 2020 just 3.56 percent of cases filed under the Prevention of Oppression Against Women and Children Act have resulted in a court judgment and only 0.37 percent of cases have ended with a conviction.

Activists say antiquated laws and a culture of taboo around rape and sexual assault need to be addressed.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll take a look at the growing anti-rape protests in Bangladesh and ask a panel of experts whether they will result in real change.

On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Shuprova Tasneem, @ShuprovaTasneem

Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, @smzakaria
South Asia Researcher, Amnesty International

Sara Hossain
Executive Director, Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust