A GANG rape victim has been forced to marry one of her rapists by police in order for the suspect to avoid prosecution, reports say.
Two policemen have since been suspended after the mother of three was forced to marry one of her alleged attackers in a Bangladeshi police station.
The 25-year-old woman, who had recently rented a flat with her brother in the Pabna district, told police that her landlord and up to five other men broke into the home when her brother did not return from work.
She gave evidence – including a medical examination at Pabna General Hospital – that the men gang-raped multiple times throughout the night in late August.
FORCED TO MARRY RAPIST
Less than a week later, officers at the police station where the woman went to file a complaint forced her to sign documents divorcing her husband and marrying the main rape suspect.
Officer Obaidul Huq said the marriage was executed with the consent of both parties.
However, police officials later said the marriage appeared to be part of an effort to prevent the suspects from being prosecuted.
Huq was withdrawn from his position and Sub-Inspector Ekramul Haque was temporarily suspended on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the “forced marriage”.
We have suspended sub-inspector Ekramul Haq for helping the marriage between the victim and one of her suspected rapists … [and have] withdrawn the officer-in-charge from his duty after he allowed the marriage to take place in the police station compound.
Pabna Police Superintendent Sheikh Rafiqul Islam
Pabna Police Superintendent Sheikh Rafiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune: “The decisions were made according to the suggestion of the probe committee setup on Sunday (September 8) to investigate the matter.”
“We have suspended sub-inspector Ekramul Haq for helping the marriage between the victim and one of her suspected rapists, who is also the chief accused,” deputy police chief of Pabna, Mohammad ibne Mizan, told AFP.
“We have also withdrawn the officer-in-charge of Pabna Sadar police station from his duty after he allowed the marriage to take place in the police station compound.”
Police did not say how long Haq was suspended for and where the other officer was to be transferred to.
FIVE MEN ARRESTED
Four people linked to the assault – including three of the suspected rapists – have been arrested.
Alleged rapist Osman Ali, 35, from Gati Shatmail village of Dapunia union in Pabna upazila, was arrested on Friday.
The woman’s landlord and neigbour, Rasel Ahmed, was also arrested over rape charges.
Other suspects have been named as Shariful Islam Ghontu, Hossain, and Sanju.
“On a tip-off, we arrested the third suspect on Friday. Earlier, four others – Rasel Ahmed, Shariful Islam Ghontu, Shonju Hossain, and Hossain driver – were arrested,” Pabna sadar police station Investigative Officer-in-Charge Md Asaduzzaman said.
Russel reportedly confessed to the crime before a local court in Pabna on Wednesday, officer Mohammed Ibne Mizan said.
One of the accused is reportedly a low-level official of the ruling Awami League party.
Gang rapes have increased in the country in recent years, women’s rights groups have said.
Many blame the country’s weak criminal justice system, which sees very few convictions in rape cases.
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