Dhaka, Feb 23 (IANS) A tribal girl, who was a gangrape victim, took her life in a Bangladesh village after one of her alleged rapists who was to marry her as part of a pact brokered by the local Catholic priest ditched her.
The gangrape victim took her life after the settlement did not work out. It was forced on her family by community leaders and Shurshunipara Catholic Church in Godagari, a sub-district in Rajshahi in western Bangladesh, a media report said Wednesday.
The victim died Monday, two days after she set herself on fire.
Her case comes close on the heels of a Muslim girl who was raped and then died of flogging ordered by a cleric who issued a fatwa (edict). It raised a national outcry.
The settlement in the latest case, “reached in the name of protecting the religion”, was designed to save nine men from prosecution for the rape. It came at a time when the case was under trial, said police and members of the victim’s family, The Daily Star said Wednesday.
As part of the settlement, the nine men paid Taka 140,000 ($2,000) to the girl’s family as compensation. Nirmol Murmu, one of the accused, was ordered to marry her.
But the marriage was cited only on papers that were submitted to the court.
Police had pressed charges against the nine men Aug 11 last year, but the court acquitted the accused as no prosecution witness appeared.
Reverend Bernard Tudu, a priest, Tuesday said that after the filing of the case, the families of the nine “rapists” had wanted to leave the village that comprised of 36 indigenous Christian families.
Fearing that the community would be weakened if they left, the local indigenous leaders initiated the settlement.
Tudu, however, denied the church’s formal involvement, although he says the settlement took place on the church premises weeks after the rape incident.
The villagers say the “rapists” are still at large, threatening the victim’s family not to file any more cases.
M. Noor Khan, director of Ain o Salish Kendra, a legal aid and human rights organisation, said there is no scope for out-of-court settlement during the trial of a rape case. Involvement in this sort of settlement is a punishable offence.
“The entire process was illegal as it was done to avoid trial. All those who were involved in it must be punished,” Khan was quoted as saying.
Christians are a small religious minority in Bangladesh that is predominantly Muslim.