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18 January, 2021 07:25:21 PM
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Rape and murder of the O-level student: Where is the root of problem?

Today when we send our children to schools, colleges or universities, how long do these boys and girls remain in the eyes of parents? Is it not the responsibility of the society and the institution to prevent a boy or a girl from engaging in socially unacceptable activities and to bring the matter to the notice of the parents if necessary?
Dr Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin
Rape and murder of the O-level student: Where is the root of problem?

A few days ago, an O-level student of an English medium school in the capital died after being raped at the house of a friend. It has been alleged that the girl was called for group study. According to the preliminary autopsy report, the girl became a victim of perverted sex. The girl is thought to have died of hypovolemic shock as a result of excessive bleeding. When the girl fainted, the same friend who raped her took her to the hospital. Some other friends of the accused boy were staying at the house at that moment. It is not clear yet if they also were involved in raping the girl. The court ordered a DNA test. The forensic department and police authorities believe that if more than one person is involved in the incident, it will come out in the DNA test.
As usual, a storm of protests erupted across the country. The whole country was stunned by the horror of the incident. Various socio-political organizations and students of schools and colleges took to the street to protest against this cruelty and demand severe punishment for the crime committed. Since the incident, various programmes such as human chain, candle lighting, demonstrations, rallies, etc. have been observed in different parts of the country including the capital city --- as we often see after such a tragic incident. Incidents like this kept happening one by one in the country and there is a commotion all around after each incident. Whenever an incident happens, the administration gets active. In many cases, criminals are caught. The crime is tried and the punishment of the perpetrator is finally confirmed. Maybe all these will be here too. Case has been filed, investigation is underway. Hopefully, there will be a trial, too. It may bring some kind of solace in the mind of the parents, relatives, peers and above all the common people of the country. But, the girl who lost her dignity, fell into the lap of death in unspeakable pain, will she ever come back? The bigger question is, are these measures preventing or will prevent the recurrence of such incidents? If not, why not?
There are some proverbs in this country since time immemorial. These proverbs reflect the acquired and accumulated experience of man through various ups and downs from generation to generation. One such proverb is: 'যত দোষ নন্দ ঘোষ।' (Whatever happens, Nanda Ghosh is to blame.) The following lines from Rabi Tagore's poem 'পুরাতন ভৃত্য' (Old Servant) may have a similar meaning: 'যা কিছু হারায়, গিন্নি বলেন কেষ্টা বেটাই চোর!' (Whatever is lost, the lady of the house says Keshta is the thief!). In this country, when a teenager is sexually abused, some people choose two simple targets to impose the responsibility of the persecution. One, the victim girl herself and her guardian. You will see that such words and messages as 'the character of the girl is not good, why the parents did not take care of the girl' are floating around among people. Two, government, administration and judiciary. Their inefficiency is the root of all evil --- some of our friends very quickly give this verdict with great confidence.
I know, some of our friends are already about to misunderstand me. The matter needs to be explained a little. I don't think anyone should disagree that it's important for girls of this age to be careful and for their parents to keep a close eye on them. However, while saying this, many of us unknowingly forget that the society and the state have a huge responsibility to keep the boys and girls of this age on the right path and ensure their security. We absolve ourselves of our responsibility simply by criticizing the misguided children and their parents and family. It is time for us to pay special attention to how much we think or what we can do to ensure that we have an effective collective role in ensuring congeniality of the overall environment. Today when we send our children to schools, colleges or universities, how long do these boys and girls remain in the eyes of parents? Is it not the responsibility of the society and the institution to prevent a boy or a girl from engaging in socially unacceptable activities in the social arena and to bring the matter to the notice of the parents if necessary?
Now think of another aspect. When both parents are employed, who will take care of their school-going children? Someone is available to give this support in a joint family in the village. Is there any better option than having a full-time domestic help in urban areas? Has anything like child care centers been developed in our country to provide this kind of service? It has become difficult to get a maid too. On the one hand, they have their own family and children; on the other hand, thanks to the garments industry, many of them are now finding alternative employment at a relatively better salary. All that is left is for one of the parents to quit his/her job and devote himself/herself to fully fledged domestic work. In today's financial crisis, it's not also an easy task to run a family on one's salary. Moreover, if a highly educated professional is asked to sit and guard the house, will it be fair to him/her?
In fact, what we often overlook in modern society is how working parents, especially when both are employed, would manage the huge and difficult task of caring for children from birth to adulthood. Boys and girls of this age have a keen interest in learning; some kind of stubborn attitude works in them; and due to lack of experience in the bitter and difficult aspects of life, there is a danger of stepping on the wrong path in each and every step due to excitement and emotion. For these reasons, you can say that there is a need for constant care and supervision so that boys and girls do not step on the wrong path. When that's the case, if both the parents are employed and therefore fail to take proper care of children, is there any reason to be surprised if the son or daughter gets misguided due to lack of proper care and discipline?
It is gratifying that today the society and the state are very vocal on the issue of women's education and empowerment. They are also vocal against violence against women. But, how much attention are we paying to solve the challenges that are created in the household and family management of working women? Can we build a comprehensive system governed by the state/society to look after their children? Can educational institutions take on some additional responsibilities as part of this management outside regular educational activities? Considering the inconvenience of working women, can their working hours be reduced? Can a slightly flexible approach be taken regarding their office presence? Can it be kindly considered to allow them to go out of the office as required for family needs? Where applicable, can a 'Working from Home' system be introduced for women using digital networks?
This time I would like to draw your attention to another important aspect of the whole matter. In the society, young girls have to face many difficulties time and again. One is that some boys follow them on their way to and from school or college or on campus. Some of these boys turn rude because of influential family background or political umbrella and make the life of school- and college-going girls unbearable. If a boy from this group likes a girl, he sends her a love proposal and if it is not accepted, he teases her in various ways and makes her life unendurable. There is another group of boys who are seemingly innocent and not as aggressive as the first group but constantly looks for a girl to meet their love needs. In fact, that's the age like. Boys and girls of this age are strongly attracted to the opposite sex. So, you will find some girls too who respond enthusiastically to his proposal if they like the boy. Some of them are busy looking for the boy of their choice. Undoubtedly, it is a part of innate human instinct. So, if you just look at it with a crooked eye, human nature will be denied. The problem arises when a girl is involved with someone whose morals are weak, whose character is full of deceit and debauchery. When the girl becomes able to understand the matter after losing everything, it is already too late.
Let's look at the matter in a little more detail. The most pronounced, discussed and pricey word in this world seems to be 'love'. Although the scope of love is very large, the key focus of people's attention is centered in general on mutual love between adult men and women. Bengal Muslim society is conservative. This society does not encourage pre-marital love between boys and girls. But, does it matter? In educational institutions or in the wider society, boys and girls are getting the opportunity to mix and match effortlessly. Moreover, boys and girls of this age have a special interest in music, cinema-theater, stories-novels, etc., most of which often focuses, as one of the key themes, on the chemistry of love and affair between men and women. Thus, due to the free association with each other, a relationship develops between some boys and girls. If the matter had stopped here, many people might not have minded. However, you need to keep in mind, we are in the age of internet and sky culture. Everyone has a smartphone in his hand. With the single push of a button, you can enter wherever you want, even in the men and women's bedroom. As a result, a strong innate attraction to the opposite sex, the entertainment industry's constant 'love-love' buzz, and a keen curiosity to 'know the unknown, see the unseen' often lead the relationship to a stage that society is unwilling to approve of. This is where the disaster begins. Behind the eyes of their parents, sometimes boys and girls take relationships to such a level that this society allows only in case of married men and women. The matters are further complicated by the hidden availability of various sexually arousing drugs in society, which easily helps them to get lost in the dark world. Sometimes these relationships do not last. This leads to counter-allegations, threats, lawsuits and in some cases even suicide or murder.
I think it is clear from the above discussion that the problem is more social than administrative or judicial. However, here the question of the responsibility of the society and the state comes up again. As discussed earlier, there are quite a few aspects of this problem that cannot be solved by individuals or families alone. Individuals / families can at best try to keep themselves away. In order to solve the issue, the society and the state have to come forward with a definite plan by thoroughly analyzing every aspect of the problem. However, it is also true that when some anomie spreads in a society, it is not possible for the state apparatus alone to do much. Therefore, in addition to the regulatory role of the state apparatus, only the positive participation of society and the general public at large can solve the existing problems. However, policy-making initiatives and decisions must come from the state.


The writer is a professor of pharmacy, Jahangirnagar University.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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