A new fetish!

Shaikha Shuhada Panzeree reveals the latest problems being faced by women who commute by bus in the city

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From voyeurism to necrophilia, sexual perversions have increased across the world. In the recent few days, a new kind of fetish made its presence known in Dhaka city and nearby areas as someone or some people have started cutting off women’s dresses in public transports, especially in buses. The victims shared their unprecedented experience on social media and have posted pictures of their torn dresses. Along with the hundreds and thousands of existing problems women have to face already, this is an added concern, for some, a horror!

On a day last week, Jannatul Laboni boarded a Bihanga bus from Mirpur-1 to go to Dhanmondi. After a while she felt someone pulling her dress from behind. But a middle-aged person was sitting there. This confused her but she decided to let it go. After the bus reached Technical Mor and she got up from her seat, she felt her dress torn around the waist. The middle-aged guy got up and tried to leave the bus in a rush. But with the help of other passengers, she managed to catch the perpetrator. Although it is claimed by the victim that the culprit was handed over to the police, Kalabagan police denies having this guy in their custody. Allegation has been made that while searching the guy, people found a blade like sharp object in his purse and also parts of the victim’s clothing.

Similar incidents have happened with quite a few women. Two girls getting off at Shonir Akhra from a public bus discovered both their dresses cut; a student of East West University faced this in Rampura and a journalist’s Saree was cut in 10-12 places. The perverts seem to be cutting the dresses with sharp blade like objects.

The incident reached another notch when few days back in Narayanganj some miscreants cut a deep wound on a girl’s back while she was riding on a rickshaw. She had to be admitted in a hospital and required several stitches on the wound. The victim’s relative posted a picture of her wound on Facebook.

People, who suffered this in Dhaka, cannot tell for sure whether one person is doing this in the city or there are more; no one can be sure about their agenda either, whether perverted sexual orientation is behind this or there are other intentions. Intimidation, scaring women from going out, putting them in public embarrassment, making them nervous could be some of the reasons, it cannot be certainly said whether it is a part of something bigger or just some sick people’s work.

This act has indicated to quite a few more existing issues that need to be dealt with. Public transports like buses do not usually have good seats. The two portions of a seat often split apart as the bus jerks, even the screws are loose, making it easy for the miscreants to do their heinous acts. Farida Yasmin, deputy commissioner of Women Support and Investigation section of DMP opined that public transport authorities should take this into consideration and take actions, the drivers and helpers have to take responsibility for providing safety to women passengers.

There have been records of predators pretending to be DB police members and following girls if they come to the police complaining about something. Nadia (not her real name), lost her purse and a man came up claiming himself to be a DB member. The person offered to find her purse, told her he owns a restaurant and she should come. He even asked her if she had money, although she was with one of her male cousins.

As newer styles of offending and harassing women are coming up, criminologists and sociologists are of the same view, that misrepresentation of women as objects, patriarchal mindset, chauvinism, misuse of technological advancement, a general sexual deprivation etc are reasons behind these. If society does not come up with educational methods to teach people, especially men, humility and how to treat women as humans, this kind of twisted activity will continue to be on the rise.