Our country is going through a devastating time. Women, men and children are killed brutally, girls fall victim to rape, eve teasing, sexual harassment by relatives, neighbours and others unknown both at home and on streets. Our women and children, especially our girl children are facing an epic situation. According to the media report of Ain o Salish Kendra, 444 women and children were raped in 2018 and the number of children (aged 0-18) were 219 out of those 444 and 27 girls were killed after rape. We see too many cases of sexual harassment, violence and rape. Bangladesh Sishu Adhikar Forum (BASF) said in its report on July 2 that 496 children were raped in the first six months of the year across the country which is a grave concern for our girl children.
The number of incidents like child abuse and rape is increasing at an alarming rate. There is no protection and safety at all. In 2002, Bangladesh stood second in the world in terms of violence against women in different forms. After 17 years instead of any improvement of the situation, we see a more alarming way of rape and killing. Day by day the number of child rape incidents is increasing and every conscious citizen is scared. The recent incidents including seven years old Samia's murder after rape, 12 female students raped by a madrasa principal in Narayanganj, a 4th grade girl raped by a madrasa teacher in Patuakhali, a 9th grade girl raped in Jessore and many more give us a grave signal that our girls are not safe at home, neighbourhood, school, madrasa and even to any relative at all. But why have this heinous crimes repeatedly taken place in our country? Where is the end? We have a pretty good number of laws and acts but why do we have to go through this situation? Because it's crystal clear that having a number of different laws and acts do not protect its citizens until those are implemented properly and exemplary punishment is meted out for those crimes.
Where is our society heading for, specially our youths? The recent brutal killing of Abrar Fahad scared us to think how dangerous the political culture turned. Ragging, tender manipulation; corruption tarnished the image of our education institutions. The new type of crime is that people are committing crimes such as rape, sexual abuse and brutal killing and they make videos and spread them on social media. Do we have any kind of humanity? People are killed, children are beaten and harassed on the streets and some others are watching and making videos using mobile phones. The recent spate of crime shows that we don't have any respect or fear for laws. The degradation of social value is the main reason which causes an increase in the number of crimes. Our parent wants to buy A+ with money: they want admission to medical and engineering colleges and want good results even in JSC and PSC exams through money instead of merits. So if the teachers are harassed and killed by students, we should not be surprised as this is the result of degradation of social value and respect which should come through families and education institutions. The first education of a child is how to acquire the virtues like respect, value, truthfulness, not to lie or commit any crime. If a parent wants to buy A+ and teachers want to see certain result-specific education through private arrangement instead of classroom, how can we expect that those students will grow up with certain value, respect and humanity in future? A child follows how their parents act with their domestic maid, driver, neighbour, rickshawpullers. If we look, we will see none of the low income class citizen is respected. A rickshaw puller is addressed without any respect, a garment worker is addressed "Tumi/tui" at the workplace. So we are setting examples of malpractice in front of our children, people and community. That works as a catalyst to increase the rate of crimes and degrade social value to break the social good myth.
The most blurry area is crime under political shelter. Crimes take place at the grassroot levels because some of the politicians are giving protection for who are involved in the crime such as drug selling and taking regular tolls from business entrepreneurs. The harsh reality is even in a small incident people want the interference of the Prime Minister as they cannot rely on others. But is it possible for a Prime Minister to handle things at the grassroots level. It should be the responsibility of law enforcement bodies.
Crimes will not reduce as those people who are involved know well that they will be protected. Easy access to internet and the lack of proper monitoring and awareness have also an influence on the rate of crimes. To stop violence against children and women, rape, killing and other crimes strict enforcement of laws is a must, especially the state has to make sure that there is exemplary punishment so that nobody dares to commit such a heinous crime like rape and killing. Besides, educational institutions and families should increase focus on moral values and equal respect for all professional people across income, gender, religion. Proper parenting is strongly needed. Social and community-based prevention is required so that none of the girls is unprotected. We are saying that our state is heading for higher GDP growth and ours is going to emerge a middle income country but this development will be meaningless until the state could ensure safety and protection for each of the citizens. The rise in the number of incidents like rape and killing must be halted to ensure a safe and secure society. We don't want to see Bangladesh on the top of the list of countries plagued by incidents like rape and killing.
Rahima Aktar is an expatriate Bangladeshi, working in Germany in a German fashion brand.