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Bangladesh approves Ordinance to Introduce Death Penalty for Rape

Sanskriti Airon

14th October 2020

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid on Tuesday signed an ordinance to raise punishment for rape to death from life imprisonment, PTI reported. The reason behind this is the significant increase in sexual crimes reported over the last few years in the country.

One of the protestors at a rally in Bangladesh (Source: Reuters)

There was widespread outrage in Bangladesh last week after footage of a brutal gang assault on a 37-year-old woman went viral on social media. At least 1,000 rapes have been reported in Bangladesh this year, activists say, but many cases go unreported because women fear they will be stigmatised, according to human rights advocates. And even in cases reported, conviction rates are meagre. Protesters, galvanised by last week's viral video, demanded prosecuted faster trials and changes to the way rape cases. The government listened to these protests, and On Monday, the Cabinet approved an increase in the maximum punishment in rape cases from life imprisonment to death. The president followed suit the next day.

The Law Ministry, in a statement to The Hindustan Times, said that from now on the ‘death penalty’ instead of ‘lifetime rigorous imprisonment’ would be the maximum punishment for rape. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the government had introduced capital punishment in rape cases to prevent the ‘brutality’ of rapists, according to a report from The Hindu. “A man when he is a rapist turns into an animal. They become so brutal; that is why women suffer so much these days. Hence we amended the law,” she said while speaking at an event here on Tuesday.

Following up on some of the cases discussed during this tumultuous week, the rape video that likely ignited the protests was investigated by the national police services, leading to the arrest of 8 suspects. Even before that incident, the gangrape of a student in a hostel in Sylhet district had evoked shock and anger across the country. The accused belonged to the student wing of the ruling party, according to PTI. The Dhaka Tribune reported about their imprisonment last week.

News Sources: The Hindustan Times, PTI, The Dhaka Tribune, Reuters

Edited by Sana Khanam

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