Actor Ananta Jalil has removed a video from Facebook in which he called on women to dress modestly, blaming their clothing choices for inducing sexual advances amid countrywide protests over a recent spate of incidents involving rape and sexual violence against women, reports bdnews24.com.
The video, titled ‘Ananta teaches rapists a lesson’, was posted to the businessman-turned-actor's Facebook page on Saturday but was retracted a day later in the face of fierce backlash from netizens.
Addressing the controversy, Ananta's media manager Al Arabi told bdnews24.com: "The video has been removed. It will be re-posted without that part [Ananta's comments on women's clothing choices]. A correction notice will also be issued."
Ananta's remarks were "unfortunately misunderstood", he claimed.
In the video, Ananta starts off by issuing a stern rebuke to the men perpetrating sexual harassment and rape before offering some 'bitter' advice to women 'as a brother'.
"Because of the indecent dresses that you wear, inspired by women from other countries, cinemas, television and social media, people look at your figures instead of your faces. They make vile comments and the thought of violating women comes to their minds,” he said.
"But if you wear decent dresses, people won't think of rape and will look at you with respect."
Ananta went on to criticise the 'modern clothes' worn by women while suggesting how they should dress instead to deter any untoward incident.
"You go out on the streets wearing a t-shirt like boys. You are a modern girl but when you are dishonoured, you either go home and commit suicide or you can no longer show your face in public."
"A modern dress means that only your face should be seen. But you have to wear decent clothes to cover your body -- clothes that will make you look good."
The actor also urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take steps to implement the death penalty for rapists.
The video garnered sharp reactions on Facebook with many users taking the actor to task for his purported 'victim-blaming'.
Facebook user Justin Anthony commented: "What was the problem with the clothes of the madrasa student who was raped? Did the fourth and seventh grade girls have a lot of problems with their clothes?"
Another user, Violet Halder, questioned the role of clothing when it comes to the rape of infants and elderly women. "There are 3 or 4-month-old children and old women who are being raped. How can clothing be responsible for this? Boys are also being raped by older men. Is clothing responsible for that too?"
Ananta's comments came on the heels of raging protests across the country, sparked by the recent incidents of rape and sexual assault in Sylhet and Noakhali.
It has prompted the United Nations to call for the speedy trial of cases involving violence against women in Bangladesh while recommending an “urgent” reform of the criminal justice system to support victims and witnesses of rape and violence.