Thousands of years old civilization unfortunately still experiences sexual violence committed by persons from even in the highest position of state to a day labourer. This gives the message that however old the human civilization is, we are yet to be rational, self restrained and refined in our manner, thinking and activities; the recent humiliation of a female garment worker in a running bus at Chittagong, the mass raping and cyber crime in Shariatpur, violating four house wives including a pregnant one at Boro Uthan area in Chittagong and eve teasing by police personnel at Bhatiaghata, Khulna, keep reminding us this again and again.
Sexual atrocity has increased at an alarming rate in the public transports.
The savage assault and the violation of four women, whose husbands are working abroad, ridicule all norms of civilization. We cannot boast of a civilization where this is going on, it has made everyone from the social scientists, educationists, administration, law enforcing agencies to the common man worried to a great extent.
The prevailing sexual crime scenario demonstrates how helpless our women folk are in the public transport, book fairs, cinema halls, educational institutions, on roads, in public gatherings and even most horribly in their own houses. The universities, the highest seat of learning have been made unholy by such beastly fellows who come to these holy places in the guise of learners. Of these beasts one in Jahangir Nagar University after snatching the virginity of one hundred fellow female students celebrated boastfully his century of misdeeds in the university campus with some other beasts in the guise of man.
What a beastly horrible enjoyment our civilization has to witness! Is it the outcome of capitalism that only knows to quench the thirst for sensual enjoyment?
Sexual harassment varies from raping to touching the private parts of women, cutting their hair and worn cloth from behind or pretending to be drowsy all on sudden and tilt towards female in the public transport. If protested by the victim, in most of the cases the co-passengers who are mostly male refrain from raising their voice to corner the perpetrator. Subsequently the victim quiets down her voice and the offender gets encouraged to commit the same crime again.
Believe it or not, the situation is so grave that even the married and middle aged men having children are found to be involved in sexual crime! These beasts forget they have sisters, mothers, daughters and wives, who if faced with the same situation will feel as his victim feels.
How our nation, liberal in attitude, will get rid of this social menace, is now a big question. What are the factors that are giving rise to this social menace? If asked, a vast majority of the people in this regard are of the opinion that injustice in the name of justice is the root cause of the problem. As the perpetrators in most cases go unpunished for they have money, muscle power and influence in the society. So they often tackle the situation awarding financial compensation to the victims or in some cases the victims are married off to the offenders and thus their hopes and aspirations of justice are buried in the quick sand of frustration and unhappiness. While in other cases, the victim’s parents and guardians are reluctant to file any suit for fear of their families’ shame and hush up the matter that helps in accelerating the number of sexual atrocity almost unabatedly.
To eradicate sexual crime from the society it is necessary for people to actively assist the victim in order to heal her mental and emotional wound. Those around her should make her feel that none considers her responsible for the misfortune and that she is regarded absolutely innocent in order to enforce mental strength in her and her family members to give them courage to stand boldly for justice.
It will not be superfluous in this context, to note that 50-60 years ago if anyone was detected involved in sex scandal, the village elders along with influential quarters would arrange for village arbitration. In the judgment he would be fined financially as well as given physical punishment like beating with shoes for 100 times or so amidst the villagers and it would be executed instantly. In addition to this, the perpetrator and his family members were usually boycotted by the villagers and embargo was imposed on their movement to market, mosque and other social institutions including other public places to mark that the family has a black ship that can do such nefarious activity.
After some period, the perpetrator with his family members would beg pardon for the misdeed and urge the elders of the village to allow them to come back to normal life. Accordingly after withdrawal of the embargo he would never be found to commit the same crime again. Such was the punishment in those days that others would take lesson from it too. But those days are gone! Nowadays, justice is not within the range of possibility. In every rural or urban arbitration process now people are found divided under the umbrellas of the political parties they are affiliated with, and influence the judgment by deceiving the victims from getting justice. So strong ‘political will’ in the grassroot level leadership can help in establishing justice in the society.
Recently established union court, supposed to play a vital role to ensure justice, is a light of hope at the end of the tunnel in this context. But it will end up in smoke if partisan people are included in it.
It is assumed that developing religious as well as social values among the juveniles through text books and sermons by Islamic scholars and Imams of mosques, clergy men of churches and temples and consequences of committing sexual crime in the eye of law if publicized through electronic and print media, ensuring good governance, subsequently establishing rule of law and strong ‘political will’ are inevitable to make a society where women can move easily in any time of the day without fear of threat.
The writer is retired Principal, Vasha Shaheed Abdul Jabber Ansar VDP School and College Shafipur, Gazipur