No More: Returned Volunteer Launches Effort to Report on Bangladeshi Violence Against Women
By Erica Burman on Friday, November 30th, 2012
After ripping open the letter with her Peace Corps country assignment, Kristy Crabtree rushed to a local bookstore. Scanning the travel aisle for a guide on Bangladesh, she hurriedly grabbed the one and only copy and dashed out the store anxious to learn more about the place she’d soon be living.
Now, nearly six years after her service, she’s still pouring through newspapers reading about Bangladesh. It’s something she didn’t initially expect when joining the Peace Corps, but she’s remained closely connected to the country.
This connection first prompted her to return to Bangladesh in 2008 to conduct research in the refugee camps for her Master’s degree thesis, and now, she’s preparing to return yet again. This time, she was determined to travel back after reading an article in Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper.
The newspaper article was about a young girl named Hena who lived outside Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka. One evening Hena’s 40-year-old cousin beat and raped her. The assault was so severe she lost consciousness. However, elders in her village convened a village court where Hena was essentially put on trial with the perpetrator. This type of traditional justice mechanism is not operated by the state, and there are no formal judges, but there are punishments prescribed by local religious and socio-economic leaders.
Following the village court meeting, Hena, the victim and survivor of the crime, was given a punishment of 101 lashes.
She didn’t survive.
Unfortunately, Hena’s story is not different from other survivors of rape or sexual assault in rural Bangladesh. Under improvised, informal village arbitration, these survivors are often punished, although they’re not the perpetrators.
Worse, most of the stories like Hena’s have gone unreported completely. And survivors continue to be punished. But RPCV Kristy Crabtree wants to change that, so she’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to help her raise $3,100 to travel back to Bangladesh and report on this issue.
She plans to live in the communities where these village court meetings are held and hear firsthand from survivors, local leaders, and other villagers. Most importantly, she plans to share this story with a broader audience to advocate for change and amplify the voices of survivors.
To learn more about the Kickstarter campaign, click here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crabtree/flawed-justice-village-arbitration-in-bangladesh