ABID AZAD

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‘Violence against indigenous women, children went up in 2014’

The number of acts of violence perpetrated against indigenous women and children last year rose a little more than 1.5 times compared to the 2013 figure, according to a report of Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN).

The report, which was unveiled at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium yesterday, showed there were 75 such cases in 2014, up from 48 the previous year.

Of the 75 incidents last year, 51 took place in Chittagong Hill Tracts area and 24 in plain lands. The incidents involved 117 women facing sexual and physical abuse, and 57% of them were children.

The 48 cases in 2013 included 32 incidents in the CHT area and the remaining 16 in flat lands.

Among all the 2014 victims, 21 were raped and gang-raped, seven were killed after rape, 55 were physically assaulted, 21 were attempted to be raped, two were sexually harassed, and 11 were kidnapped and attempted to be kidnapped, according to the report.

The total number of victims of violence in 2013 was 67 while it was 75 a year earlier.

Speakers addressing the briefing pointed out that raising fear among the indigenous people was one of the key motives for subjecting indigenous women and children to sexual violence.

Another reason was to create tension among such communities to have them evicted from their ancestral lands in order to eventually grab the properties, they noted.

Other reasons mentioned for committing acts of violence against indigenous women included non-implementation of the CHT Accord, culture of impunity and political influence.

Speaking at the press conference, Coordinator of Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha Dilara Rekha described the figures presented in the BIWN report as frustrating.

She said the civil society and the progressive groups in the country should act to bring an end to such culture of impunity.

Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad advocate Rakhi Das Purakayastha said the government should take immediate steps to end violence against indigenous women.

“As citizens of the country, indigenous women have the rights to get justice and they should demand justice for all the violence perpetrated against them,” she said.

She also said Bangladesh Mahila Parishad would always be with the movement of indigenous women.

Sabiha Yesmin Rossy, a teacher at Dhaka University, said psychiatric rehabilitation is important for the victims of violence and the government should take relevant initiatives.

Among others, Executive Director of Kapaeeng Foundation Pallab Chakma and indigenous rights activist Rakhi Mrong were present at the briefing.

Joint Convener of the BIWN Chaitali Tripura gave the keynote address.

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