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Women in Bangladesh Can Now Face Death Penalty for Rape

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The Bangladesh government has approved a sweeping anti-rape legislation, allowing for the death penalty for offenders and stipulating that the punishment be given in a prison or jail rather than on the streets, after a 25-year-old woman was raped and killed earlier this year.

Authorities say about 40 percent of the 700,000 reported cases of sexual assault each year in Bangladesh are dismissed as false. While the new laws will help alleviate some of those concerns, advocacy groups have questioned whether the legislation actually does much to improve the environment for victims. The laws take effect on Nov. 1.

“We wanted the death penalty for rape,” Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters. “Although it is not a perfect solution, it has given us a sense of urgency to bring reforms.”

The United Nations recommended a short-term delay, arguing that this would allow the government to draw up guidelines, which would be produced by a parliamentary committee.

The violence that led to the change was carried out in May when an 18-year-old was savagely raped by several men as she slept in her dormitory room at a University in Dhaka. While the family of the woman has complained that she was targeted for passing along information that may have led to the arrests of some of the suspects, those who carried out the crime were never arrested. Police said the motivation behind the crime was robbery.

Four men were arrested for the crime, but only three were charged in court. The father of the victim, who is not from Dhaka, previously called for the death penalty for the rape and murder.

Police said that while four men were arrested for the crime, only three were charged in court.

Photo credit: Pamuk Economics/UIG via Getty Images

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