Can highest punishment reduce rape in Bangladesh?

Repoter : News Room
Published: 5 July, 2021 11:01 am

 Md. Zonaid Patwary:

Rape is a form of sexual assault. Rape is defined as the act of having sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of another person or in any other way causing sexual intrusion into his or her body. According to the Muslim religion, Islam does not define rape differently. Because any sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a crime in Islam. The word ‘rape’ is very hellish So whenever a rape occurs, it is associated with murder. Allegations of rape, trial and punishment are different in different regimes. Rape is a discussed phenomenon.Under Bangladesh law, rape is punishable by life imprisonment. But still the rate of rape in Bangladesh is not decreasing.

According to the,a housewife was gang-raped in Narail’s Kalia upazila with the help and support of her husband. A young man from the village started harassing the housewife in various ways. Four local youths including the harasser went to the house, called the woman from sleep and asked her to open the door. When the husband calls from the workplace, the housewife opens the door of the house. Then they lock the door and rape the housewife.

Events that are unknown to us are always forming. Of these, we know the ones that are spread in the media and the rest remain unknown to us. Section 9 (1) of the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Act, 2000 states that rape is punishable by death, and that the maximum punishment for rape is life imprisonment in Bangladesh. Provisions are to be added. Why the housewife in Narail was gang raped on June 22, 2021, even after the maximum punishment for rape was death?

According to Penal Code 1860, a man is said to commit rape considering some circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions:

Firstly- Against her will

Secondly- Without taking her consent

Thirdly- With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt.

Fourthly- With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband but she given her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly- By taking her consent or without consent, when she is under fourteen years of age.

However, the definition and punishment of rape is provided by section 375 and 376 of the Penal Code 1860 4. According to Nari-O- Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain- 2000 under Section 9 if a man has sexual intercourse with a woman over the age of sixteen without her consent or by intimidation or fraudulently obtaining her consent, or with a woman under the age of sixteen with his consent or without her consent the woman will be considered raped 5. As per the section375 of the Penal Code 1860 describes a term named penetration which is considered as the most vital point of sexual intercourse. But there is no clear definition of penetration in the Penal Code1860.Recently, honorable president Md Abdul Hamid issued an ordinance on the amendment of Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain (The Women and Children Repression Prevention Act,2000). Considering the rape issue on 13 October 2020 the provision of death penalty is incorporated for this offence and the law ministry issued a gazette notification titled as Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 and some issues are considered in the ordinance: Introduces the death penalty as the maximum punishment for rape.

Introduces the death penalty as the maximum punishment for attempt to cause death or hurt after committing rape

Introduces DNA testing

Law making authority increase the amount of punishment for reducing the rate of rape from Bangladesh. But the question is how successful they are? Now-a-days the rate of rape is increasing. According to Ain o Salish Kendra, a leading human rights organization in Bangladesh, 907 women or girls were raped (January-September) and 200+ of these cases were gang raped 6 . After increasing the punishment people hope that the rate of rape should reduce, but unfortunately, it continuing. According to a study has found that the punishment of rape has increased (from seven-year imprisonment to the death penalty) as a result of the Women and Children Oppression (Prevention) Act has had minimal effect in actually lessening the incidence of rape, with an increase of 88% in 2001.

According to Bilkis Begum, Coordinator, Dhaka Medical OCC, 211 women and children were raped and admitted to the One-Stop Crisis Center (OCC) in the first month of this year (2021), nearly twice the first month of the previous year. Until February 12 of this year, Dhaka Medical OCC received the greatest number of rape victims. This is the number 115. In January, 74 of them were admitted. 48 of them are under the age of 18. In January 2019, this figure was less than 50. Other OCCs in the country have a similar proclivity to seek assistance after being raped.

According to research, the country with the harshest punishment has a higher crime rate, not a lower one. The death penalty for rape was first implemented in Bangladesh by Section 7 of the Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance 1983.  According to statistics, from 1983 to 2021, the rate increased on a daily basis. The main debate is whether the harshest punishment for rape is effective in reducing this crime. and whether existing legislation in this area is not adequate?

According to world population Review, Nepal has the lowest rape rate in South Asia at 0.8 which is our neighboring country. On the other hand, the rape rate in Bangladesh is 9.82 which is an increase of 9.2 from Nepal.According to 9th amendment of Muluki Ain Kathmandu School of Law in Nepal Chapter 14,

1.Forcible intercourse with an unmarried girl under the age of sixteen, without the consent of a widow or someone else’s wife will be proved as a case of rape.

  1. If a woman is raped by a family member, the rape punishment will not be included as a case of life imprisonment.
  2. If a woman under the age of fourteen admits to rape, the rapist faces a six to ten-year prison sentence.

Furthermore, raping a woman for fourteen years or more is penalized by three to five years in prison.

  1. Rapists and accomplices who consciously intend to rape should face up to a year in prison.If a girl under fourteen years old is raped, the punishment will be twice.
  2. The person who attempted but failed to rape will receive half the sentence.
  3. If a woman engages in sexual activity without her consent, she faces a fine of one thousand or five hundred rupees or a year in prison.

In Bangladesh, the definition of rape is not fixed, and the punishment is increased from time to time, but the rate of rape is increasing rather than decreasing. In Nepal, on the other hand, the punishment for rape is definite, but the legislation is perfectly executed. In this sense, the most severe punishment, such as a capital sentence, will not be able to lower the rate of rape.

However, several steps can be implemented to prevent rape in Bangladesh, such as:

  1. The maximum punishment for rape should be reduced to death without punishment.
  2. As a middle-income country, we should increase the number of courts, judges, and police stations so that every citizen may access legal assistance immediately.
  3. Union, village, and stage supervision should be strengthened.

At the moment, people in Bangladesh, particularly women, do not feel safe; everyone is afraid of rape. However, the punishment for ‘rape’ has been increased, but nothing has changed. Whenever this incident occurs and there is a discussion about altering the legislation, the legislative body eagerly begins increasing the punishment rather than enforcing the present law, ensuring justice for the victim. Our society appears to be obsessed with increasing penalties. People feel that by increasing the punishment, the offence will be reduced. However, for a developing country, execution may be more important than increasing the level of punishment. In this way, simply changing the legislation is not a viable solution to the rape problem; morals must also be ensured.

Md. Zonaid Patwary : Studying law and human rights at University of Asia Pacific.