Kushtia rape victim forced to detail in public; video goes viral

Kushtia, July 7 – The video clip of a mentally-challenged teenage rape victim being harassed publicly by arbitrators in the name of settling the issue in Khoksa Upazila has gone viral, triggering public outcry.
Although six days have elapsed since the arbitration, no action has been taken yet against the arbitrators.
In the video clips, it was seen that the girl and her mother, who was abandoned by her husband, were made to stand together at the arbitration at Thanarpar in the Upazila on July 1.
Later, the arbitrators asked the girl open questions about the rape incident in front of several hundred locals from different ages and settled the issue slapping the boy, a Class-IX student, for several times.
They also asked the victim’s mother not to file any case over the incident.
In the face of widespread criticisms over the incident, police recorded a rape case on Wednesday. But there was no mention of harassment in the name of arbitration in it.
Locals said the boy of Thanapara took the girl, aged around 13, to a nearby jute field and raped her on June 27. Locals rescued the girl and sent her home.
As the news spread around, senior citizens of the area called an arbitration meeting on July 1 to settle the issue.
At the meeting, the arbitrators wanted to know in details from the girl about the sexual assault on her. They asked some objectionable questions to the girl in front of several hundred locals.
Later, the victim’s family went to a relative’s residence at nearby village fearing further reprisal.
After the video footage went viral, police brought the family back to their home and recorded a rape case on Wednesday.
Sub-Inspector Prashanta Kumar Saha, an investigation officer of the case, said police arrested the accused and sent him to safe custody as he is a teenage boy.
Khoksa municipality councillor Imran Hossain was also present at the arbitration presided over by local Jubo League leader Al Amin Bakul.
Contacted, Imran said he went to the arbitration as the local councillor but did not take part in it. “The girl’s brother and others joined the arbitration.”
Bakul admitted that the arbitration was held in broad daylight in front of several hundred people.
He, however, said he went to the arbitration to save victim’s cousin from being beaten.
Meanwhile, the rape accused’s mother claimed that her son is innocent.
She said the girl was rescued when her son was talking to her in the field. “No incident of rape took place.” – UNB