Rajshahi Metropolitan Police has come up with a new approach of investigating allegations of sexual harassment by taking notes from social media discussions for gaining public confidence.
The initiative was taken after the police noticed that victims frequently took to social media to write about incidents of sexual harassment, rather than complaining to police.
In the last ten days, RMP dealt with at least two such incidents where the victims explicitly denied to go to the police and instead posted on social media, generating widespread discussion.
“We haven’t taken the approach in any formal way,” RMP’s spokesperson and deputy commissioner Golam Ruhul Kuddus said. “We’re doing this from our sense of responsibility to the society. We want people to have faith in us and not stay silent when these incidents happen.”
On Monday night, a female student of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology raised an allegation of sexual harassment on a running auto-rickshaw in the afternoon while she was returning home.
Yesterday morning, officials of RMP’s Detective Branch spoke to the victim, and she denied to file any complaint in this regard. However, she went with the police to show them the place of the incident and provided description of the harassers.
“Primarily we found truth in her allegations,” Abdullah Al Mamun,
deputy commissioner of DB, RMP told The Daily Star yesterday, “She was lacking confidence in the police. We’ll arrest her harassers first and then convince her to file a case.”
He said, quoting the victim, that the auto-rickshaw driver and his accomplices forced other passengers to get down from the vehicle and then sexually harassed her while the vehicle was going to Rajshahi Railway Station from Bhadra intersection. They later let her out of the vehicle near Rajshahi Nagar Bhaban.
In another social media post on August 10 night, a Ruet teacher raised allegations that his wife was sexually harassed by a group of stalkers while he was walking with her at the city’s Sona Dighi intersection in the afternoon. When he protested, the men attacked him, he alleged on Facebook.
“The incident was reported to the police over a cell phone call within few hours and we promptly started the investigation, recording a general diary,” said police official Golam Ruhul Kuddus.
However, the police could not take any stern legal action as the victims themselves had not lodged a complaint, he added.
Six days later, the Ruet teacher’s wife agreed to file a complaint with Boalia police station and the police gathered eyewitness’ description of the criminals and video footage from CCTV cameras.
On Monday afternoon, police arrested three youths in connection with the assault and harassment, and they were identified by the couple.
“We could catch them easily with cooperation from the victims,” the police official said.