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Attack on a girl by policemen for protesting against sexual harassment

© AFP/Getty Images/M. Uz Zaman

© AFP/Getty Images/M. Uz Zaman

Policemen in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, have been in the news this week after officers brutally beat and kicked a girl taking part in a protest against sexual harassment. The incident has been condemned in social media.

The pictures and videos of the incident are shocking. Several policemen shown beating, kicking and pushing a terrified girl about on a street in Dhaka. When the girl tried to run away the police officers struck her repeatedly and knocked her down on to the pavement.

The incident took place on Sunday (May 10) during a demonstration by a group of people protesting against a recent sexual assault on women at Dhaka University campus. A number of women had been harassed during the Bengali New Year celebration on April 14, 2015. More than four weeks have passed since the incident took place. But the police have not yet arrested anyone, and the government has shown no interest in the investigation into the assault.


Violent attack on protesters

When the young woman was assaulted by police protesters were demanding the arrests of those involved in the sexual assault. They were marching towards Police headquarters in Dhaka to make their demands heard by the police chief. But policemen blocked their way and did not allow them to go anywhere near police headquarters. They were then clubbed, tear-gassed and hosed by water cannon.

More than 15 protesters were injured. The assault on a girl named Ismat Jahan sparked huge criticism. Local media reported that she is an activist and member of a left-leaning political organization.


‘It was her fault’

While many people condemned the attack on Jahan on Mother’s Day on Facebook and demanded the punishment of the police officers involved, others tried to blame her for the incident. On a picture she was seen throwing an earthen pot at an armored personnel carrier after police swooped on protesters. This picture was shared on Facebook by pro-government activists as an attempt to justify the brutal attack on the young woman.

However, the picture soon became a symbol of protest against repression. Lucky Akter, an
activist based in Dhaka, wrote on Facebook on Monday that, ‘‘by showing this picture, one could say whatever happened was right because she had provoked the police.” Akter accused the people posting this picture of belonging to the  same group of people who believe girl’s clothes are responsible for sexual assaults on them.’’

For Akter the picture is a proof that girls can take part in a protest. She hopes that one day girls will be able to defend themselves against any repression in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, a police officer has been suspended over Sunday’s assault on Jahan. This move gives rise to a little hope that the perpetrators will not go unpunished this time.

Author: Arafatul Islam

Editor: Marjory Linardy

You can follow Arafat on Twitter @arafatul



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15.05.2015 | 12:12