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Justice crying in violence against women, girls

CaptureTHE murder of the schoolgirl Suraiya Akhter Risha — who, stabbed by a stalker on August 24, died from her injuries on Sunday — once again brings to the fore that shocking crimes of violence against women and girls, more in the form of harassment, has continued apace in the absence proper justice dispensation, largely stemming from unwillingness, if not inefficiency, of the law enforcement agencies and the government. This appears more so in view of the train of such incidents, with the case of Afsana Ferdous, a student of architecture at the SAIC Institute of Management and Technology at Mirpur who was found dead on August 13, and that of Sohagi Jahan Tonu, who was found dead near her house inside the Comilla Cantonment on March 22, being the most recent examples. In Afsana and Tanu’s cases, unending investigations, coupled with the post-mortem reports being mired in controversy, have only compounded the situation and tainted the investigations. But with no visible, and convincing, progress in investigations of the murders so far, the cases, along with other such unresolved, pending matters, whereby justice is delayed or even denied, have continued to create a culture of impunity, worsening the issue of crimes against women.
Violence against women and girls continue to be the most heinous and prevalent human rights abuse and this has become a threat to all women. It also obstructs all efforts for development and gender equality in society. And most such crimes are fuelled by a need for power, more so in a patriarchal society like ours. The government, thus, needs to view such crimes as crimes as well as human rights abuses in the first place. And in any case, the perpetrators of the crimes need to be arrested and tried, early and impartially, leading to punishment in order for the government, if it means business, to stop the recurrence of such incidents. We have always heard assurances that offenders would be arrested, tried and punished. But almost none of the assurances have come true. For all this to happen and to stop the train of such violence against women and girls, the government needs to rise above all lines, partisan or otherwise. While it needs a political will and needs to let the law enforcement agencies act independently in dealing with such crimes, it equally needs to wage a social and cultural movement against such crimes.
We have demanded justice for Tonu and Afsana and now for Risha. Our demands remain the same; only the victim’s name changes, with no gains. It is, therefore, time for the government to stop the endless repetition of assurances and the recurrence of such crimes. The government also needs to put in place improved education of such matters and shape robust public consensus for an effective weapon to cause the change in society. And in the cases at hand, the government needs to ensure justice.

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