05/19/2020, 14.37
BANGLADESH
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Coronavirus: Christian woman attacked and molested for not paying the rent

by Sumon Corraya

The landlord and his son carried out the attack against the women and her two daughters. The victim, an ethnic Garo, lost her job because of the government’s lockdown to counter the coronavirus pandemic. The police have launched an investigation. For tribal people living in the capital, unemployment is a tragedy. Economic activity has dropped by 71 per cent in urban areas and 55 per cent in rural areas.

 

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – A Christian woman and her two daughters, aged 17 and 20, were attacked and molested by their landlord for not paying the rent. The family lives in Kalachandpur, a district in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka

Subhra Graga, an ethnic Garo, lost her job at a beauty salon because of the government’s lockdown to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accompanied by fellow Christians, yesterday she filed a complaint at the police station in Gulshan against Nazrul Islam and his son, who was also involved in the attack.

“In April, I paid the rent," Subhra told AsiaNews, "but without work or money, I was unable to do so this month.” The country is under a strict lockdown, and beauty salons have been closed.

She said she asked the landlord, Nazrul Islam, to pay by 20 May rather than on 10th day the month as usual. On Sunday, he reacted by locking the main gate to the home whilst Subhra and her daughters were at the grocery market.

“He told me that if we did not pay the rent, we could not enter the home,” she explained. “Then, after repeatedly I asked him to let us through, Nazrul Islam and his son threw themselves at us, tearing off our clothes and touching our private parts.”

Subhra says that the two men also tried to squeeze her throat. “I survived thanks to the intervention of the neighbours, who, hearing us shouting and crying, came to our rescue.”

After she filed the complaint, two policemen helped her and her two daughters return home. The police said it had launched an investigation into the incident.

Nazrul Islam defended himself by saying that the clash with the woman was not caused by the non-payment of the rent, but because he had reprimanded Subhra for leaving the house and not respecting the lockdown.

Christian community leaders are concerned about the situation. Protap Rema, who heads the Nokmandi Community Centre, a Garo rights group, wants justice for Subhra, stressing that many tribal people are in the same situation of poverty.

“Some 30,000 Garo Christians live in Dhaka,” he said. “About 90 per cent are currently unemployed. In order to survive, many are leaving the capital, where the cost of living is too high.”

In Bangladesh, unemployment is rising sharply due to the coronavirus. According to the Power and Participation Research Centre and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, economic activity decreased by 71 per cent in urban areas and by 55 per cent in rural areas as a result of the pandemic crisis.

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