Dhaka, Oct 16: Around 400 demonstrators have started their long-march programme from Dhaka to Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila protesting the growing incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women across the country in recent times and the culture of impunity.
The march began from Shahbag around 10:30am.
The protesters including left-leaning parties, students, youths and rights activists, started their long march under the banner of “Dhorshon O Bicharhinotar Biruddhe Bangladesh” (Bangladesh against rape and impunity) to press home nine-point demand. They marched towards Noakhali shouting anti-rape slogans.
Former General Secretary of Bangladesh Students’ Union Liton Nandi said, “This march is a part of our protest against rape and injustice. Maybe the police will not interrupt this march but there are such possibilities from a student party.”
“Around 450 activists are taking part in this programme. Firstly, seven buses will depart from Gulistan, then another five buses will join the protest from Narayanganj,” Sadikul Islam Sadik, vice president of Socialist Students’ Front’s Dhaka University wing, stated.
Meanwhile, they held a rally at Sonargaon of Narayanganj on their way and will hold another in Maizdi of Noakhali on Saturday. Their demands include ensuring exemplary punishment of the perpetrators involved in rape and violence against women, resignation of the home minister and an end to repression of women.
Protests against rape and violence against women erupted across the country since the beginning of October, following the recent incidents of gang rape in Sylhet’s MC College and in Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila.
In the wake of widespread protests against the growing incidents of rape, the President has promulgated an ordinance allowing death penalty as the highest punishment for the crime instead of life imprisonment.
The ordinance was issued following waves of anti-rape demonstrations across Bangladesh after a video footage of five men gang-raping a housewife, stripping her naked and filming the video of the incident in Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila, went viral on social media.