Police yesterday said they found proof of a college girl being sexually assaulted in Banglamotor area on Wednesday, an incident about which she opened up on Facebook.
“We found two footage of CCTV installed in the area. We have primarily found that she was sexually assaulted,” a police official from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police's cyber security and crime division told The Daily Star yesterday, wishing not to be named.
Four to five men were seen making the assault, he said.
“Police also collected the dress the girl was wearing that day,” he added.
Meanwhile, the father of the girl filed a case with Ramna Police Station under the Women and Children Repression Act in connection with the sexual assault.
According to the case statement, the incident happened when the 18-year-old girl was on her way to home from her college.
As she found no transport in Shantinagar intersection, she walked to Officers' Club area where she boarded a Farmgate-found bus. She got down from the vehicle as it got stuck in jam near Banglamotor and again started walking.
All off a sudden, some 15 to 20 boys in white T-shirts -- all aged between 25 and 30 -- surrounded the girl and started teasing her, the case statement says.
“They tore her uniform…a traffic policeman rescued her and help her board another bus. She returned home after that,” the statement added.
On Wednesday, several city streets were clogged with traffic for hours due to a rally organised by the Awami League at the Suhrawardy Udyan marking the historic March 7 Speech by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Amid outrage over sexual harassment against several women on the streets of Dhaka on Wednesday during the rally, rights activists said in most cases, perpetrators of such crimes enjoy impunity which leads to recurrence of such incidents.
They urged the government to identify the people who harassed the women and punish them immediately.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said law enforcers will take action against those who sexually harassed women on the streets during the rally.
“Law enforcers have collected video footage of the incidents and will take action upon scrutinising them,” he added.
The minister said after one of the incidents came to their attention, police went to the girl's house and took her statement. He said the media will be informed about the identities of the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, at a programme, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said what happened outside the assembly venue was not the party's concern.
But there is a responsibility of the government and the home minister already said they were investigating the incidents, he said.
He added that anyone who has committed such crimes during this government's tenure was not spared.
On Wednesday, the female student uploaded a Facebook status saying she was harassed near Banglamotor by a group of youths who were moving in a procession.
Later, on social media, at least seven women alleged that they too were physically and verbally harassed on roads during the Awami League rally.
Nina Goswami, senior deputy director of Ain o Salish Kendra, termed the incidents “very pathetic”.
She said perpetrators of such incidents, like what happened during the Pahela Baishakh celebrations in 2015, are seldom brought to book, creating a culture of impunity and for these reasons, such incidents recur.
In 2015, at least 20 women were molested during the Pahela Baishakh celebrations on Dhaka University campus, sparking an outcry among people from all walks of life.
Later, the law enforcers investigated the case and were able to arrest only one accused, although photos of eight youths, who allegedly carried out the assault, were released.
Nina demanded that the government identify the responsible persons immediately and if they are involved with any political party, they must be expelled from the party and punished as well.
Ayesha Khanom, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, said it is very unfortunate that the incidents took place in broad daylight, amid tight security ahead of the political rally.
She said that such incidents have seen a sharp rise in the last two years and the administration has to take the responsibility.
“It seems, instead of taking zero tolerance [by the administration], perpetrators of such crimes are getting some sort of impunity, leading to the recurrence of such incidents,” she said.
VULGAR AND UNEXPECTED: VICTIMS
After the sexual harassment posts surfaced on social media on Wednesday, many users condemned the incidents demanding exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.
The Daily Star contacted six of the victims, who all shared their experiences of being harassed physically and verbally by groups of people at the rally.
A Dhaka University student said she was coming from Rampura on her scooter (bike), when she saw a number of processions on the road between Bangla Motor and Shahbagh.
“As I was crossing them, some other bikes from the rally tried to stand in my way and get closer by pressing sharply at the brakes. They were honking horns and sending flying kisses,” she said, adding that she could not drive faster as the road was crowded.
Another DU student told this newspaper that she was returning home after classes when the DU campus was filled with people attending the assembly.
When she was crossing the road near TSC around 4:00pm, some men wearing white T-shirts were passing by. One of them hurled abuse at her.
“It was so disgusting,” she added. She eventually had to leave the rickshaw near Curzon Hall and take shelter in Begum Sufia Kamal Hall until the prime minister began her speech.
Four more DU students alleged that they were verbally abused near Shahbagh, Shahid Minar, Hakim Chottor and Nilkhet area.
“It is so pathetic that we were harassed on our own campus,” one of them said.
A DU student from the faculty of social sciences, who was groped near the Karwan Bazar intersection on Wednesday, told The Daily Star that she has been receiving vulgar messages in her Facebook inbox after posting a status regarding the incident.
She uploaded another status that said, “I don't want the greetings of International Women's Day from a country where returning home is not possible without being harassed…”