22-year-old woman gang-raped on bus in Bangladesh

Assault in Bangladesh brings comparisons to 2012 New Delhi gang rape

A 22-year-old woman was raped by five men on a minibus in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, authorities said, in a case with chilling echoes of the fatal attack on a woman in New Delhi in 2012.

Doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital said Saturday that medical tests confirmed the victim was sexually assaulted. The woman, described as a sales clerk from an indigenous ethnic minority group, was in protective custody, police said.

“We found signs of recent forceful sexual intercourse,” Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, chief of the hospital’s forensics department, told a news conference.

Police say the woman was waiting at a bus stop for a ride home after work on Thursday night when a minibus stopped in front of her and two men forced her aboard. They and three other men inside the bus took turns raping her for an hour and a half while the bus slowly drove around the Jamuna Future Park area in northeast Dhaka.

Sajjad Hossain, inspector at the Bhatara Police Station, said the family of the woman filed a case Friday. No suspects are in custody, he said.

“We’re investigating the incident with highest importance,” Hossain said.

The woman’s sister told reporters that the family had to visit three police stations before one agreed to take a report.

They went to the station closest to their home in the Uttara area around 4 a.m. Friday but were told by police that they did not have jurisdiction because the incident took place outside the area. They visited another police station an hour later and got the same reply, she said.

They reached Bhatara Police Station around 6 a.m. but had to wait three hours for a senior officer to arrive and register the case.

Women’s rights activists say indifference by authorities and a culture of impunity are encouraging such crimes.

Bangladesh has been plagued by unrest since January amid an ongoing political crisis that has resulted in street battles that have left more than 120 people dead.

Two secular bloggers have been hacked to death in Dhaka in recent months; a third was killed earlier this month in the eastern city of Sylhet.

The gang rape immediately drew comparisons to a gruesome December 2012 incident aboard a private bus in New Delhi, the capital of neighboring India, in which a young woman was beaten and sexually assaulted by six men, and later died of her injuries. The case sparked a national outcry and tougher legal penalties in rape cases, although many women say that social attitudes that contribute to sex crimes have not changed.

Kader is a special correspondent. Staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report from Mumbai, India.

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