Bangladesh: Indigenous women human rights defender gang raped in Chapainawabganj, CHT

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    An indigenous woman human rights defender who is also a central member of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, president of Chapainawabganj district unit, member of Parbotipur Union Council was raped and physically assaulted on August 4, 2014, by a group of land grabbers in Gomostapur Upazila, Chapainawabganj District in the Chittagong Hill Tracts [CHT].

    On the day of the incident, the victim along with some workers went to work in the paddy fields near her village. At around noon, a group of miscreants composed of 30/35 people led by Afzal Hossain and Manirul Islam went to the paddy fields with sharp weapons and sticks. They obstructed the victim and her workers while they were working. When the victim protested, one of the land grabbers tried to stab her with a knife and another land grabber hurled a farsa (a type of long and sharp knife used for farming) towards the victim but the victim survived the attack. At that time three miscreants forcefully dragged her to an open place and raped her. They then threatened to kill her if she files any case against them.

    Before leaving the scene of the crime, the miscreants looted all the valuables and agricultural equipment from the house of the victim including a power tiller, a shallow machine and a pair of buffalos. After the incident, villagers rescued the victim from the spot and brought her to the local Gomastapur health complex. When her health condition was deteriorated, she was transferred to Chapainawabganj General Hospital for better treatment.

    A case was filed with Gomostapur police station by the victim on the same day. So far, police arrested two of the miscreants. However, the masterminds of the incident, Afzal Hossain and Manirul Islam, and the alleged three rapists remain scot-free up to this writing.

    The victim is a very capable organizer and active for the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples of her area. Over last couple of years, the victim organized different successful campaigns against local land grabbers in her area and was able to recover ten acres of lands belonging to her husband from the land grabbers. Since then, land grabbers including Afzal Hossain, had been threatening the victim and trying to extort BDT 300,000 from her for around a week before the incident was occurred.

    Violence against women, targeted rapes and killings, are means used by landgrabbers as weapons to get back at indigenous peoples who are asserting their rights to their lands in the CHT. This case is the list in a string of documented cases which had been reported but have not received justice. Unless and until the Government of Bangladesh demonstrate concretely its compliance with its obligation to respect, promote and protect the rights of indigenous women with a resolution of these sexual violence cases against indigenous women, the security of indigenous women in the CHT will always be under threat because of their ethnicity and gender.

    Source: Kapaeeng Foundation