Some people might say that beauty becomes a curse for a woman who is raped. But I disagree with the idea that the woman’s physical beauty is a curse, because it is not beauty that causes sexual violence; the main cause is the beast inside of man. Not all of the women or girls who get raped exhibit extreme physical beauty.
Why does the rapist not rape the mother, sister or daughter in their home who may be more beautiful than the woman or girl they rape? The question is what prevents them from raping their mother, sisters or daughter. If it is religious norms, then somehow the same religious norms fail to stop them from raping someone else. Otherwise, the news just never makes it out.
In Bangladesh on any given morning, if you look at the newspaper you will see news about various forms of violence against females of different ages, from two-year-old girls to elderly women. Stories talk about girls that get raped by people outside the home, by relatives inside the home, by teachers in schools, or even by clerics in religious institutions. The victim may go to the police for justice, but then there are also cases of women getting raped inside of police stations when they go to report the violence committed against them.
We talk about educating about violence against women in Bangladesh, but in some cases, female students have been harassed by teachers in school, from the Mohila Madrasa – a girls Islamic school – to well-known higher educational institutions. On May 14, 2009, the High Court of Bangladesh pronounced a judgment to prevent sexual abuse of women at the office, educational institutions and all types of governmental, non-governmental and other organizations.
Especially for minority girls and women, Bangladesh is an extremely fearful place. As soon as a girl is born into a minority family, they have to worry about whether she will be raped by Muslims and how they will save her from that fate. Obviously, not all minority girls and women are raped, but there are uncounted numbers who are, especially in Bangladesh’s Hindu community. At the dawn of each day, there is another article about a minority woman or girl who either was raped, maybe even murdered, or committed suicide after rape.
Mili Rani Malakar, a 13-year-old Hindu girl was abducted and gang raped by local Muslims at Sylhet on May 1, 2008; later on, with a battered body and shattered mind, out of fear and extreme shame, the poor girl committed suicide. It must be noted that it’s not the men who commit suicide out of fear and shame, but the girl who was beaten, broken and raped by beasts. It reminds me of the quote by famous U.S. author, educator and theorist Freda Adler, “Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.”
All the major religions that are practiced here in Bangladesh are male-dominated organizations. In their holy books, creation begins with a man, “Adam”, who establishes pleasure and perfection on a woman “Eve”. The Abrahamic faiths differ from one another in many things, but they are united in this beginning story, which begins the history of male domination and which ends in today’s daily life practices. From Adam to the great Prophet Mohammed, all of the prophets were male.
Bangladesh has a vast population practicing and following Islam in their lives. Islam initially controls their way of life. In Islam, the Prophet Mohammed left an example by having sexual relations with different women, from Aisha, the six- or seven-year-old daughter of Abu Bakr, to elderly women, as well as by having thirteen wives or concubines.
In different religions, the institution of marriage has tried to restrain the male, who is normally a polygamist by nature. Especially the Prophet Mohammed, who had several wives, set an example before the followers of Islam of being an extreme polygamist.
The Roman philosopher Seneca advocated that, “Injustice never rules forever.” The injustice that is going on in Bangladesh against women and girls will not continue forever if we can dig out the rotten teachings of religions, especially of Islam, that lead people to be polygamists, encourage male domination and deprive women by making them dependents. We need to hasten the day when men and women will be treated equally, when beauty will not be a curse, but will be a blessing for all.
William Nicholas Gomes is a freelance Journalist and Human Rights Activist. He can be reached by email at [email protected]