Rape, gangrape culture, violation, maltreatment, and torture of women has become a critical issue for Bangladesh’s case since 1971. I could not go through enough on the recent rape features for my current online work pressure, but I have always been concerned about the abuse and heinous crime on women. Accordingly, I put effort into writing on how to resolve this problem where the population size is 5 times higher than Canada, but the country’s landscape is about 67 times smaller than Canada. I should mention that Bangladesh is only 1.2 times bigger than New York City. And in this small size land, 160 million people are living shoulders by shoulders. Moreover, the youth population covers 15 percent of the populace.
After I read a feature on the brutal gang rape of a housewife who is from Noakhali district and the graphic video of this tortured lady was uploaded and shared in social media yesterday, it was hard for me to resist not writing a few words on rape culture in Bangladesh and Bangladesh’s socio-religiopolitical stance.
The rape culture has become an ongoing crisis for a Muslim country (a densely populated) like Bangladesh that is shameful for the government and its sensible nation.
According to World Population Review 2020, in terms of religions preferred by the population, Muslims come in with 89.1% of the population, Hindu with 10%, and other religions make up the remaining 0.9% (including Buddhist, Christian). 98% of the population speaks in Bengali, and mostly they practice Bengali ethnic culture. And they enjoy the essence of various traditional religions, including Islam.
Religious harmony and pluralistic cultures and ethnicities were pillars of this historically Muslim-majority country. In 1996 the new government amended the constitution and removed the word secularism. The new government put forward a conservative ideology, promoting a faith-based sociopolitical environment. And they disregarded Bangladesh’s pluralistic society and their heterogeneous cultures. However, the current government has reinstated secularism as a state ideology but has not amended or declared the state religion in the constitution.
Although the majority of the population practice Islam, I find the Islamic teaching, its moral ideologies, and Islamic peace education learning have no impact on Bangladeshi youths and adults. Consequently, we can assume that, overall, morality, norms, and values have gone down in the country, although the religious ideology and its practice are supposed to nurture and develop higher beings. So, what is wrong with these youths and adults and Bangladesh’s social system? And why is this a proper time for the country’s policymakers to determine where the real problems are? If we think deeply, many factors are working behind the rape culture, corruption, looting money from the banks, grabbing other people’s properties, torturing minorities, and other serious crimes occurring in this country daily?
Concerning the rape crimes, the country has to be started from the changing policy and planning in the political administration, such as brushing out goons from the state-led party. Bangladesh Prime Minister’s kind attention to this critical issue and order to the administration for severe punishment is not enough to improve social changes. Since this country’s birth, all rapists and goons joined several Bangladesh political parties because many of the youth population are uneducated and unemployed. Remember, it is not a one-sided story; instead, rape is a combination of many holes, and the hole is getting more prominent. For example, lack of moral education at home and school, increased number of uneducated youths, and high unemployment rates are partially the cause of rape culture, not women’s attire or outing alone in the early morning, evening time walking the quiet location.
To decrease rape crimes the country’s small landscape demands to reduce youth population growth by employing an active family planning policy soon. Multiple providers such as state and mostly education stakeholders have helped raise the initial enrollment rate and enhance the gender balance. On average, over 30,000 Non- Formal Primary Education centers have been in operation in recent years, yet the number of dropouts is high. Even those who are passing primary or secondary education do not have access to jobs. Therefore, to foster whole beings (a morally superior and learned being) and skilled human resources, Bangladesh needs morality and vocational training-based education, not a literacy-focused one. Furthermore, stopping rape culture, the country requires rigorous restructuring of its socio-political mechanism, including strict law and order enforcement.
The writer is a Doctoral Candidate working on peace and conflict resolution through science at Curriculum Studies and teacher, Development department, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Teaching Assistant, Sociology Department, University of Toronto.