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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The girl gang-raped: The Daily Star Editorial

Source: The Daily Star
The incident that follows a similar crime committed by BCL men a few days ago puts the whole nation to shame, not only should the ruling party be. When a schoolgirl is gang-raped by the activists of the ruling party's student wing, people are bound to feel both tormented and insecure.

The BCL activists appear to have gone out of control as reports of their committing all sorts of crime continue to pile up. All the attempts by the AL high-ups to rein the unruly elements in have apparently failed to produce any results. But then gang-raping a young girl and then trying to hush it up is a crime the enormity of which is hard to describe. The criminals, no fewer than 10 in number, committed the mind-boggling crime and then arranged a farcical village arbitration and were let off the hook lightly, as they were asked to pay a fine of only Taka 10,000 each. Now, rape is not the sort of crime that can be settled in a village arbitration dominated by the influential locals who have no legal authority to deal with such matters. In this case the arbitrators themselves committed a crime by allowing the culprits to escape without the punishment that they deserved.

The whole thing smacks of a conspiracy to deny the poor father of the victim the justice that he sought so desperately. The AL leaders of Kalapara upazila in Patuakhali district have failed to handle the matter neutrally as is evident from the arguments put forward by them in defence of the rapists. Perhaps such leaders are as responsible as the criminals themselves for what is happening today across the country.

Justice is clearly eluding the victim and her family. Things are going wrong for them at almost every step. The rapists are reported to have collected the signature of the girl's father on a white paper to make sure that he could not seek legal remedy. This is of course another crime since the poor fellow's right to seek legal protection was violated through it.

So, it is a story of political clout overshadowing everything else. Even the law enforcers appear to be helpless as they released two of the rapists because no case had been filed against them! However, the police should have delved deeper into the matter before releasing the two young men.

The ruling party has to address the issue in order to uphold the right of a poor girl to get justice, and for other girls to feel secure. Such ghastly crimes will surely blur the party's image and expose it to condemnation only unless the culprits are given due punishment.

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