By Nasrin Siraj for Thotkata, translated by Alal O Dulal
On 25 November 2015 the court sentenced Parimal Joydhar, a teacher of Viqarunnisa Noon School, for raping a girl in Year 10.
The incident happened in 2010. The situation in our country is so bad that the school-authority had tried to protect the criminal in many ways than to take the matter – of this horrific sexual abuse – to the law. The school-authority even expressed its concerns that ‘the attitudes and dresses of girls are inviting’.
But the youth and students of Bangladesh, our only hope, did not accept such a grave wrong and untruthful campaign. Girls of Viqarunnisa Noon School, at the time, built a powerful protest demanding the capture and trial of the rapist. This protest had spread beyond the school and reached the national level due to students’ protest.
That protest was behind today’s sentence.
Although girls’ protest (against rapes) is not the topic of this piece. Rather, I am writing about a comment made by Parimal’s lawyer. He had made the comment to a TV journalist, to transmit his client’s innocence via media. And the journalist, it seemed, was such a supporter of the rapist’s-party that instead of asking a counter-probing question, just telecasted the comment.
What was the comment? The TV news showed both sides lawyers making comments. The highlight of the news was court’s concern over serious oversight of the investigating team. As though, the news clip was edited bearing in mind that the accused would turn to a higher court. The journalist himself assumed the responsibility to broadcast that the rapist, Parimal, is not guilty. In a sequence of clips the defending lawyer of the rapist said, ‘… there was no evidence of a forced-rape even in the medical report ’.
In legal term, the plaintiff in this case is a school going child. She cannot consent legally. So it will be illegal and punishable even if she had consented to have a sexual intercourse with anyone. The court would have considered it as a rape. The TV channel could have used this logic to refrain from broadcasting the comment. However, perhaps they had sworn to support the rapist-Parimal, so did not even bother to question that the victim is a not an adult. This is the number one issue.
Second (and most important issue) is that in order to claim that ‘no rape had happened’, the insensitive, shameless or over-intelligent lawyer had stated, ‘the rape actually happened with acquiescence of the girl’. My question is, what did the lawyer mean by a rape? Has the lawyer presumed that a sexual intercourse is a rape? Or, all rapes are also sexual intercourse?
We see phrases like ‘enforced rape’, ‘ involuntarily raped’, ‘forcefully raped’, ‘unwillingly raped’ quite regularly. This means there are two kinds of rape: 1. consensual rape and 2. non-consensual forced rape. Yet, a rape is such an aggressive overpowering act that use of threats would only be natural to subjugate the victim. Would it not? The act is called: love, affair, living-together or cohabitation when it is consensual.
I don’t think this is really a grammar issue. Rather, the speaker is not being able to mentally and psychologically distinguish between a coitus cohabitation and a rape, or using a deliberate dirty deviousness. I say dirty deviousness as it did not seem to me that it was an unintentional spur of the moment comment. Instead, he probably had argued that the girl did not fight enough to stop the rape. Hence, the use of terms such as ‘enforced rape’ helps saving the culprit rapists.
The original in Bengali is at thotkata.net
2 thoughts on “Consensual Rape?”
My thanks to the writer of the piece and to Alal-o-Dulal for furthering the efforts on the part of the writer to bring to the fore an instance of how the skin-deep TV journalism in our country is, in effect, abetting in the social apathy at point.
To be honest, journalism as a whole in Bangladesh today is devoid of any moral direction and our ‘Fourth State’ has, in fact, decomposed to such a point that, as a former journalist, I can only feel ashamed of its health. In our days in the 1950’s and 60’s when the journalists in this territory, then East Pakistan, had to work under had and repressive Government control, the larger part of the media still stood for, among other causes, the plight of the underprivileged class in the society. Elsewhere, it did not fail in the moral evaluation of, or view in correct perspective, the social evils of the kind the present case represents.
The picture today, however, is entirely different, even though the media today enjoys a degree of freedom that could not be remotely dreamt of in the 50’s and 60’s. Plus, both the individual and organization (we don’t have institution) in our media world are far more resourceful compared to the past. Technology has made things many hundred times simpler for a media man to play the true “conscience keeper” of the society. The underlying simple explanation for such unfortunate end is: we earned independence from a colonial rule, have seen manifold prosperity in material spheres – that usually follows such political changes — but have become morally unreliable. It may sound shocking but this is true, the scenario applies to the entire intellectual community that we have, lock, stock and barrel.
No question a certain degree of decomposition of the media, markedly since the 70’s, has been a global phenomenon in a world since driven and devoured by the “market” fantasy of Capitalism. Everything has become a ‘commodity’, so is journalism — irrespective of whether it is the print media or the audio-visual panorama. It is a well-known fact that the world mainstream media is now controlled by the Corporate World and media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg and the few likes. But given the history of our practices and struggle in not-too-far in the past and the fact that in this soil the corporate entities have still to gain the menacing stranglehold as in the West, it’s a pity that in this country of near 170 million there is not even a small ‘determined minority’ in our intellectual community in general and the media in particular comparable to, say, Noam Chomsky of the United States. The irony here is that Noam Chomsky and the like in the United States know it very well that with all their might of the pen they would still fail to overpower or dislodge within their lifetime the system that is made for, and designed to protect, the 1% rich Americans, the Wall Street and the Military-Industrial Complex of the USA. On the contrary, the situation is different in Bangladesh where the corporate existence is still in an infantile state and the vast masses of our people – who have never failed to respond – would be ready for any sacrifice if only someone should ‘show them the way’ for the nation’s true well-being (Example: 1971).
Our ‘conscience keepers’ know better than that. Take for example, the case of the editor of the largest circulated (Bangla) newspaper in the country, who once edited the Communist Party mouthpiece “Ekota” (When I was editing the English weekly “The Wave”), hence was counted in the ranks of a respected “progressive” intellectual. This PR gifted man is now the most prominent ‘think-tank’, philosopher and ‘role-model’ for mobilizing corporate-media collaboration having made optimum use of his credibility, skill and all the resources at his command. The end-result? Newspapers and TV Channels (the number of them are fast approaching the population mark itself!) are vying with each other in organizing ‘Round Table Conferences’, ‘Talk Shows’ and the like the output of which serve, at best, the introduction of the banners of the sponsoring corporate entities and self-aggrandizement of some half-baked ‘know-all’s’. As for the contents of the above exercises, if one would go by the adage ”Little Learning is Dangerous”, these would, as these have so far, do harm rather than any good to the society and our common masses who are well meaning but do not have the education or the history to ‘treat one before they trust’ would continue to be misled or cheated.
– K B M Mahmoud (mahmoud@bol
It has taken decades in the West for the idea that ‘no means no’ to finally take hold and be truly accepted. It is slowly coming around to the idea that a girl under a certain age cannot make a genuine choice to consent. Only now is it true that a woman can dress as she wants and not have it taken as an invitation to rape her. Nevertheless, rapes do still happen. I would love to believe that Bangladesh could overtake the West in understanding and decency but reports such as this make me fear it is still much further behind on this matter. I hope that changes soon, I truly do.