In an exclusive interview, Shipan Kumer Basu, who heads the World Hindu Struggle Committee and is now an honorary member of the International Police Commission alongside being an International People’s Alliance of the World Peace Ambassador, claimed that the coronavirus has led to more violence against women in Bangladesh: “The World Population Review survey found that there were 11,682 cases of violence against women in Bangladesh in 2020, which is really worrying. In 2019, 517 minor girls were raped, of whom 60 were killed after being raped and 6 committed suicide after the rape. Due to the shamelessness and indifference of the Awami League government, in the first 4 months of 2020, 164 girls were raped. In the next 3 months, the rape rate of minor girls went up 102% and increased to 332.”
Of course, Bangladesh is not alone in this. The Sustainable Social Development Organization, an Islamabad-based charity, noted a 400% spike in child rapes, sexual assaults, and the abduction of minors in Pakistan during the coronavirus lockdown. Sisters-for-Sisters, another charity, found that the fact that nearly a quarter of Nepalese workers lost their jobs during the pandemic has led to a rapid increase in child marriages in the Asian country. And in Tennessee in the United States, marital rape and homicides have skyrocketed. According to the Pulitzer Center, “In the COVID era, offenders are likely spending more time with victims because of social distancing, working from home or unemployment.”
However, Basu noted that the rapid spike in rapes, gang-rapes, murder after rapes, incidents of physical torture, etc. is deeply concerning and that the Bangladeshi government should be held accountable for it: “The local media has reported the involvement of the ruling Awami League Party in many of the incidents. The police and the administration have collaborated with the criminals. Since the Awami league came to power in 2009, the crime rate has risen dramatically, especially regarding murder, rape, torture of Hindus, corruption, theft, robbery, and terrorist activities. Yet, the pandemic made these already existing trends even worse.”
Basu noted that Bangladeshi anti-rape protesters have chanted, “The police are the watchmen of the rapists.” He claimed this is because the police take virtually no actions in defense of Bangladeshi women who are sexually abused: “In recent times, the whole country has been consumed by a horrific rape culture. The judiciary of the state has been corrupted against the woman to such a level that even women working prominent positions in the government are unlikely to get justice.”
According to Basu, towards the end of September, a Hindu girl was murdered for refusing to marry a Muslim. So far, he claims that the police have failed to arrest the perpetrator. Around the same period of time, Basu claimed that an Awami League official raped a seventh grade school girl and social media posts have emerged of mobs torturing a Hindu woman: “Due to this and many other cases, the Hindu community doubts that the police will ever give them justice.” In conclusion, Basu called upon the international community to come up with a global plan of action to assist women and girls that are gravely getting persecuted in the Third World amid the pandemic. As the late Elie Wiesel once stated, “For evil to flourish, it only requires that good men do nothing.”
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