SHARIATPUR: A madrasa teacher, who allegedly raped an 8-year-old girl last month, has been let off the hook by a Kangaroo court after paying a fine of Tk 250,000 and receiving 10 slaps with a shoe at Zajira upazila of Shariatpur.
According to sources, Amir Hamza, 30, headmaster of Baitul Jannat Mohila Madrasa, raped the victim on March 13, reports UNB.But after the incident became public on Thursday (April 15), locals held an arbitration instead of approaching police, underpinning a rape epidemic in the country.
They fined the rapist Tk 3 lakh and 10 hits on the body with shoes. Later, the fine was revised to Tk 250,000.
The government amended the law last November to incorporate death penalty as the highest punishment for rape.
Razzak Majhi, a resident of the area, said a so-called jury of 20-25 members
delivered the verdict “after weighing every opinion”. “All stakeholders are happy with the verdict,” he claimed.
Mintu Mondal, an inspector of Zajira Police Station, said no one informed them about the rape incident or the arbitration.Additional Superintendent of Police (Naria Circle) SM Mizanur Rahman said the law did not allow meting out punishment for rape through arbitration.
He said they would take action after receiving a formal complaint.
Bangladesh continues to see rape incidents even after raising the highest punishment. Rights groups blamed the lack of implementation of the law and a low conviction rate for the situation.
Earlier last month, a police headquarters report said 26,695 rape cases had been filed across the country in the last five years.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) data shows that 1,018 children were raped last year alone, but only 683 police cases were filed. Also, 116 victims were 6 years old or below.
Overall, 1,627 rape cases were reported last year and 53 of the victims were killed by the perpetrators while 14 took their own lives.
ASK’s data was likely just the tip of the iceberg, according to aid agencies, who report that most women are too afraid to report rape.
The gang rape of a woman at Sylhet MC College hostel in September last year and the attack and rape of a woman in Noakhali the next month triggered massive countrywide protests.
On October 13, the President promulgated an ordinance making death penalty the highest punishment for rape.
The next month, the Parliament passed the amended law.
Human rights organisations say strict implementation of the law and a high conviction rate will help bring down the crime.