Will the loud protests we are hearing now serve as a wake-up call?
A society which cannot protect women from predatory men is a mass of humanity steeped in depravity. When a woman looking for a bag of blood for her ailing husband is lured into a home, to be raped by the man who pretended to come to her assistance, it is a sign of how far we have slid down the scale of social decency. When a husband is bound in rope and his wife is raped by a band of rapacious men in a university area, we know the degree to which we have fallen in self-esteem.
When a helpless woman is molested, is raped and then stripped naked in public and not a soul comes to her rescue, to her defense, we can only fling dollops of hate at ourselves. Our faces are blackened.
In these past many weeks, and almost every day, we have woken up to the ever-sordid news of some woman raped somewhere in the country. And that happens even as we proudly celebrate the empowerment of women in our country. Bangladesh’s women are in politics, in the civil service, in the armed forces and the police and other security forces; they are teachers, scholars, researchers, doctors, and workers in the various industrial installations; they are students in schools, colleges, and universities looking to futures that they would like to build for themselves.
And yet all around them are the many other women who keep falling prey to the lust of priapic men, those dirty, ugly specimens of humanity that cannot keep their lewd impulses under control. Never before have we in this country had a situation where women, every woman, felt as unsafe as they do today. We have, throughout our history of the last near-half century, vociferously condemned the alien Pakistani soldiers who raped 200,000 of our women during the War of Liberation.
We have been appalled by reports of women and girls raped in regions torn by armed conflict around the world. But for women to be molested, to be shorn of their dignity in peacetime and in a society which claims to be democratic and where the constitution guarantees rights to all classes and all manner of citizens?
We need only fall back on what the Ain O Salish Kendra tells us of the plight Bangladesh’s women suffer from. In the last nine months, ASK informs us, 975 women were raped in the country. That means an average of four women raped every day. The breakdown of the figures makes for horrific reading. It holds up a picture of viciousness that is hard to imagine and yet difficult to wish away. Rape has now expanded into an area where it is not just one man who pins a woman down to his basest instincts.
It is now entire gangs of men who take perverse pleasure in subjecting a single, helpless and screaming and eventually silent woman to their animal