The shocking and horrifying incident of a gang-rape in Cox’s Bazar just a couple of days ago comes as a year-end report informs that at least 1,247 women were raped from January to November of 2021. The report — prepared by human rights organization Ain O Salish Kendra — found that three incidents of rape have been logged per day throughout the 11 months.

To say that the situation is alarming is an understatement, especially given that recorded incidents of rapes are certainly lower than the actual number. The immediate course of action for the government is to ensure a highly effective system of reporting sexual violence, where victims can feel safe and understood. Many victims avoid filing a case in fear of social stigma, as well as harassment from offenders, who evade justice often.

Higher recruitment and involvement of female officers in the police force, and having female officers at the positions of authority, are absolute necessities in creating such a system, something that’s not only a common-sense measure, but also supported by research. Lack of reporting is a significant obstacle toward reducing gender-based violence and the first step toward solving that problem should be the inclusion of more women in the police force, and studies show that there is a direct correlation between the increased reporting of violence and a visible presence of women in policing.

As well as creating a welcoming reporting system — which is the first important step toward redressing violence against women – preventative actions must also be taken, including effective and functioning response units to emergency calls, among other important steps.

The authorities must also ensure that political influences cannot be used to evade justice or indeed, ensure that no one feels empowered to perpetrate acts of violence against women because of political connections.

 

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