Community Women Against Abuse

We Stand for Equality, Secularism and Peace

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Bangladesh Government Must Apprehend the Perpetrators of mass sexual assault on Women

An Open Letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister from International Women’s rights campaigners

We wish to echo the outrage expressed by women’s rights campaigners in Bangladesh against the organised sexual assaults on 20 women in Dhaka by identifiable perpetrators on the evening of 14 April, during the celebration of Bangla New Year 1422. It is appalling that on the auspicious occasion of Bangla Nobo Borsho, women were subjected to such a horrific event in a nation-state which is led by a woman Prime Minister. These organised sexual assaults went on for about two hours within the premise of Dhaka University where women should feel able to be safe.

The University has described the organised violence against women as a ‘normal incident’ and ‘nothing so severe’. It seems incredible that the Proctor of the University has denied having evidence of sexual assaults on women when four surveillance cameras were operating on the premises. Instead of supporting the protesters and detaining the perpetrators who conducted the heinous crime, both police and the proctor have accused the survivors of violence for not having been dressed appropriately in a plural society! It is unacceptable that the police were silent bystanders during the vicious incident.

Attack on a student Ismat Jahan Jo during demo on Sunday 10 May 2015. Courtesy: The Daily Kaler Kontho

Attack on a student Ismat Jahan Jo during demo on Sunday 10 May 2015. Courtesy: The Daily Kaler Kontho

Additionally, Police cracked down and brutally tortured the protesters against sexual assault on women during a demonstration on 10 May 2015. These demonstrate deep-rooted misogyny in Bangladeshi institutions.

Masculinity is pervasive in Bangladesh even in times of relative peace. It is deeply concerning that a secular regime which has vigorously attempted to bring war criminals for rape in the Bangladeshi war of independence in 1971 to justice fails to prevent sexual violence against women.

We stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence and with the protesters in Bangladesh. The following demands should be implemented urgently:

  1. Immediate arrest and punishment of the perpetrators. But we oppose the use of capital punishment for anyone convicted in this instance.
  2. A public apology from the local police and administration of Dhaka University for failing to support the women who were tortured for one and a half hours.
  3. Immediate suspension of Police who tortured and humiliated demonstrators.
  4. Immediate suspension of the Proctor at Dhaka University for his controversial statements and for attempting to hide evidence from CCTV footage.
  5. Emergency support to the survivors of sexual violence including provision of economic, medical and mental health resources to overcome social stigma attached to sexual violence
  6. Ensure immediate support to and security of the protesters.

We, the undersigned:

Readers are encouraged to sign the open letter and share with friends who may support our campaign.

Read published report on the Daily Star : ‘A mothers’ day gift from Police’

Watch how Police van ran over human demo:

Watch how protesters were tortured during a demo:

Further news: ‘Silencing Outcry’