Bangladesh’s government on Monday approved amendment to law allowing the death penalty for rapists amid Nationwide protests. The rising cases of sexual assault increased pressure from the public demanding for harsh punishment of perpetrators in rape cases.
The decision was taken during a virtual meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic by the council of ministers headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, according to the cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam. As per the bill, anyone convicted of rape will be punished with death or “rigorous imprisonment” for life. The existing law sets out a maximum of life in prison for rape.
Protests erupted across the country after a video of a sexual assault made rounds on social media. The attack occurred at the victim’s home in Noakhali, near the capital, Dhaka. Students and activists across the country protested against the prominent rape culture in the country and demanded the death penalty for rapists. According to a recent report issued by the human rights group Ain o Salish Kendra, nearly a 1,000 women were raped in the first nine months of the year – one-fifth of them being gang rapes – while 43 of the 975 victims were killed after being attacked.
Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan continue to see cases of rape and sexual assault as more victims are coming out and more cases are being reported. The public in these South Asian countries is frustrated with the authority’s neglect over the protection of women and children against sexual assault and have demanded death penalty for rapists.