Marriage not a solution to rape: Rights groups

Udisa Islam
Published : 02:00, Apr 16, 2019 | Updated : 02:00, Apr 16, 2019

Representational ImageMother of two children, Rahela Begum, was a victim of rape when she was 18. Since the perpetrator was from an influential family, her father could not lodge a case.
The local leaders sat together and arranged for Rahela to be married to the rapist, Rashed, which followed four years of agonizing torture.
As Rahela says: “I was spared the stigma of being a rape victim but did not receive respect.”
Rashed divorced Rahela and re-married; meanwhile, Rahela came back to her father’s home with her two children, facing regular censure.
In many cases, rape victims are forced to marry their abusers to save face and live in society.
Another victim, Sahana, was also forced to marry her rapist since her abuser recorded the rape and then spread it via Internet.
But Sahana is happy now and does not have any complaints.
“My abuser married me and has given me an identity; therefore, I do not regard him as a criminal.”
Women leaders say that in rape cases, the biggest problem is rehabilitation. An excellent example is Purnima who is now self-sufficient and works as a women leader in society.
In many cases, rape cases are withdrawn since it’s found that the victim and the abuser are married.
Farhana Hafiz, a women’s rights activist, says: “Firstly, rape is a crime; so, the rapist is a criminal, therefore marriage with a criminal cannot take place.”
Secondly, marriage with the abuser emanates from the social notion that the girl’s respect needs to be safeguarded, added Farhana.
Women need to be made to realise that respect does not falter if someone is raped.
National coordinator of We Can, Zeenat Ara huq, says: “The most important thing after a rape is to bring the victim out of trauma.”
“The village seniors propose marriage on the grounds of long term social repercussions, saying that since the woman is raped, she is no longer a respected person.”
President of the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Ayesha Khanam, says: “When a crime is committed, it must go through proper judicial process; in the name of marriage between a rape victim and the rapist, women are being humiliated.”