Female activists take part in a torch procession demanding women's safety and justice for rape victims in Dhaka. Reuters
A Bangladesh court sentenced five men to death on Thursday for the 2012 gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl, amid growing public anger over rampant sexual violence.
The sentence was handed down in the northern district of Tangailby a special tribunal set up to deal with cases of abuse against women and children.
Prosecutor Nasim Ahmed said the victim's boyfriend took her to a riverside where she was raped by him and two friends. Two others helped them.
"All five were found guilty and have been sentenced to death," Ahmed told the media.
Women’s rights activists protest against gender based violence outside the Parliament in Dhaka, Bangladesh. AP
It was the first conviction since the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this week introduced the death penalty for rape.
Gang-rape already carried the death sentence, but rape by a single offender had previously been punishable only by life imprisonment.
Last week demonstrations broke out across the country after harrowing footage of a group of men stripping and attacking a woman went viral on social media.
National anger over the issue has been simmering since last month, when members of the ruling party's student wing were arrested and charged in a separate gang rape case.
Protesters in the capital and elsewhere have demanded stiffer punishments, faster trials and an end to what they see as a culture of impunity for sex crimes.
Only around three percent of rape cases end in convictions.
At least 208 cases of gang-rape were reported in the first nine months of this year, according to Ain o Salish Kendra, a local rights group.
Bangladesh has hanged 23 people since 2013, while at least another 1,718 are on death row.
Rights activists have criticised the introduction of the death sentence for rape saying it will not reduce violence against women.
"This regressive step is a fig leaf that deflects attention from the lack of real action to address the appalling brutality faced by so many Bangladeshi women," Amnesty International said.
"Executions perpetuate violence, they don't prevent it," he said.Agence France-Presse
The court ruled seven of the party's former lawmakers, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were guilty of leading a criminal organization, while the others were guilty of participating in a criminal organisation.
Protests rocked Bangladesh on Saturday as hundreds of people took to the streets to demand justice after a series of rapes and sexual assaults that have spurred the government to seek capital punishment for offenders.
Killers poured kerosene over Nusrat Jahan Rafi and set her on fire on the roof of her school after she refused to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against her head teacher.
The country, whose hospitals bore the brunt of a record second surge in infections and deaths in April and May due to the Delta variant, has seen new cases plateauing around 10,000 in the past few weeks. But the detection of the Omicron variant in the southern state of Karnataka, has raised concerns of a third wave of infections.
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