On the 2nd and 3rd September 2010, GHRD together with Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) investigated the case of a 15-year old Christian minority girl who suffered multiple violations including rape, beatings, threats as well as extra judicial punishments in a village arbitration. Ostracised by her own community, she was lured away by two men to the capital where she was locked up, beaten and raped for almost a a week.
The Hague, The Netherlands
ISSUES: extra judicial punishments, women’s rights, right to physical integrity, personal integrity, caste
On the 2nd and 3rd September 2010, GHRD together with Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) investigated the case of a 15-year old Christian minority girl who suffered multiple violations including rape, beatings, threats as well as extra judicial punishments in a village arbitration. Ostracised by her own community, she was lured away by two men to the capital where she was locked up, beaten and raped for almost a week.
The violations started when the villagers discovered that the young girl and her tutor had a sexual relationship. The girl was then beaten and abused by her tutor’s family – trying to force her to end the relationship. The community also called the village arbitration and ruled that the girl’s father had to provide food to the entire indigenous community as a reparation, otherwise they would outcast the girl and her family. They were also threatened with physical violence in case they could not provide the food. Fearing their safety the girl along with her family temporarily went into hiding. At this point her tutor contacted her and offered her a solution to their hopeless situation: a marriage and promises to provide her with a job in Dhaka. Her parents agreed and sent their daughter with her tutor on the 4th of June, 2010. The tutor – along with two accomplishes – locked up the girl in a house in Dhaka and raped her. She was also threatened with electric shocks and with a dagger. For six days she was repeatedly raped, threatened with death, and she was also forced to drink alcohol. On the 10th June, she was thrown out on the street in an unconscious state due to days of abuse. The father of the victim appealed to the local community leader and to the chairman and member of local Union Parishad to address the case, however, the perpetrators refused to appear at the arbitration. Finally, a complaint case was filed at the Special Tribunal for the Prevention of Women and Children Repression, Dinajpur, registered under no. 87/2010 under section 7/9(1)/30 of the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act, 2000. The perpetrators tried to force the family to withdraw the case, and hired some people to abduct the victim on the 26 August, 2010. The villagers managed to detain the main perpetrator, but his accomplices escaped. The tutor was finally arrested and placed in jail custody on the 27th August.
BIHR along with GHRD-Dhaka investigated the incident by visiting the scene, taking statements of the victim, father and mother of the victim, and witnesses, visiting the local police station; talking with the concerned officers in charge, and the appointed lawyer of the victim. Although the police in Ghoraghat, Dinajpur District had been informed of the situation, they did not take any initiative to resettle the victim and her family to their village prior to GHRDs intervention. Neither did they take any steps towards arresting the perpetrator prior to the intervention by the villagers. Through the intervention of GHRD and BIHR, who mediated with the village leaders and authorities, the girl and her family have successfully been resettled to their house.
GHRD is deeply concerned about the injustices and severe human rights violations this young minority girl has endured. We also observe that traditional arbitration and extra judicial punishments persist in rural Bangladesh, despite its prohibition. The police negligence in this case is particularly disturbing. As Bangladesh is a state party to the ICCPR authorities should take all necessary steps to give effect to the rights it has recognized in this treaty.
Specifically, GHRD urges the authorities to:
- to take all necessary steps in order to address the prevalence of traditional arbitration, and extra judicial punishments; which are resulting in severe human rights violations;
- specifically; to provide human rights education and training to local police authorities as well as to the general population, in order to bring an end to the practice of traditional arbitration;
- to ensure an efficient and independent investigation into the above case in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent re-victimization of the victim;
- to ensure the full protection and rehabilitation of the victimized girl and her family;
Additional information regarding the case will be submitted upon request.
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