The Death Penalty Won’t Curb Rape In Bangladesh — Here’s Why

Activists say it’s not just about the maximum punishment for rape — Bangladesh’s judicial system rarely metes out justice for rape survivors.

Jennifer Chowdhury

October 29, 2020

The Death Penalty Won’t Curb Rape In Bangladesh — Here’s Why
Protest pictures from Dinjapur, a city outside of Dhaka. Protests were widespread across Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of Sadea Naowar Khan)

In early October, a Facebook video went viral in Bangladesh for all the wrong reasons: in it, a group of men, for 30 minutes, were slapping, punching, and stepping on a 35-year-old woman — naked, distraught, and begging them to stop — in her home in Noakhali, Bangladesh. The attackers included a man who had allegedly raped the woman in the video at gunpoint multiple times over the last year, according to an investigation by Bangladesh’s National Human Rights Commission. For a month, the men threatened the woman with extortion. When she was unable to pay, they released the video on social media. 

The Noakhali case arrived on the heels of another rape case that was receiving national attention. On September 25, a woman was visiting MC College in the Sylhet area with her husband when attackers dragged the woman, along with her husband, into a dormitory. They tied up the husband while the attackers gang-raped her in his presence. A few days later, police arrested several members of the ruling party’s student wing for the crime.