Bangladesh rocked by fresh protests over sexual assaults

Hundreds protest for a second day after a video emerges showing men attacking a woman from a disadvantaged community.

Students in Dhaka shout slogans to protest against an alleged gang rape of a woman in the southern district of Noakhali [Rehman Asad/AFP]

Hundreds of Bangladeshis have staged protests and scuffled with police for a second day as anger mounts over the latest instance of sexual violence towards women.

The protests in Dhaka and elsewhere erupted after video emerged showing several men stripping and attacking a woman from a disadvantaged community in the southern district of Noakhali.

Before being taken down, the clip was shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, sparking outrage online in a country where activists say only a tiny percentage of sexual assault victims see justice.

The protests come after a week of growing outrage in neighbouring India against the alleged gang rape of an “untouchable” Dalit teenager by four higher-caste fellow villagers.

Amnesty International in Bangladesh said the new “disturbing footage demonstrates the shocking violence that Bangladeshi women are routinely being subjected to”, and called for a thorough and impartial investigation.

Even before the video footage emerged, anger had been brewing since several members of the ruling party’s student wing were arrested last week and charged with gang raping a woman in northern Sylhet.

In Dhaka on Tuesday, demonstrators scuffled with police while marching on the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, leaving several people injured.

Dhaka University students and some left-wing protesters chanted “shame Hasina” and called on her to resign, in a rare show of defiance in a country where open criticism of the government is rare.

According to the local human rights organisation Ain-o-Salish Kendra (ASK), between January and September 2020 nearly 1,000 rape cases were reported, including 208 gang rapes.

Source: AFP