Garo girl molested by Muslim, incident sparks community protest
by Sumon Corraya

The 15-year-old was on her way home from school. A man dragged her into the forest to rape her. She was rescued by a rickshaw driver. The community took to the streets demanding greater safety for youth and severe penalties for those who commit such crimes.

Tangail (AsiaNews) – A 15-year-old girl was saved from a rape attempt by a young Muslim in Jalchatra, Tangail region (central Bangladesh).

Rupa Rema (not her real name) is an ethnic Garo. She was returning home from school, a long walk of several few kilometres that includes going through a forest.

According to the preliminary investigation, she was joined by Abdur Rauf, a young Muslim of 25, who first made indecent proposals to her, then, after a first refusal, tried to drag the girl into the forest to rape her.

Rupa's screams drew the attention of Sabuj Miha, the owner of a rickshaw, who was passing along an adjacent road. He first stopped the 25-year-old and then called the police.

Now the community of Jalchatra, in particular parents as well as classmates and teachers at Corpus Christi High School are demanding justice.

Yesterday, about 300 children and adults gathered along the main street in Jalchatra and formed a human chain calling for a fair trial and exemplary punishment for the rapist.

“I heard about the incident,” said Fr Donel Stephen Cruze, parish priest in Jalchatra. “The student is from the village of Jangalia in our parish. We want the guilty to be tried and punished for what he did.”

Even Robinson Khan, a Catholic at Corpus Christi High School and protest organiser, stressed the importance of just punishment, which acts as a deterrent for those who are prone to abuse of this kind.

“In order to go home, many of our girls have to cross long stretches of forest alone,” Khan told AsiaNews. “We ask for support from the local police so that our students do not have to constantly feel in danger.”

In Bangladesh, abuses by majority Muslims against members of religious minorities are frequent and underage girls suffer the most from this type of violence.