Before the trauma of hacking a husband to death in front of his wife in broad daylight at Barguna could dissipate, another man was hacked with a machete in front of his wife at Narayanganj. The man did not die but was admitted to a hospital with severe injury. In another incident, a garments worker in Mirpur was beaten with iron rods and wooden bars so severely that bones of his legs and hands were left fractured. In excruciating pain, he is languishing in a hospital bed. In Satkhira, culprits smashed a teenage van driver's skull to leave him senseless in a paddy field before decamping with his van.
Committed in the past couple of weeks, these acts of barbarity may be representative of Bangladesh society's increasing psychic rot but certainly the incidents are not all. There are grisly murders and abhorrent criminal acts of various types. But some of the sex crimes are simply mind-boggling. A sexagenarian raped his 20-month old niece before fleeing. What is unbelievable is that the man returned to surrender to the court and confessed his crime. Another septuagenarian also violated a student of class IV. But in Siddhirganj, what a school teacher did has brought shame on the very profession. A teacher of mathematics and English, this devil incarnate from hell shows the depth of abysmal pit his deranged mind could descend. Threatening his girl students with poor marks, he allegedly used to rape them and also captured video images of the act in order not only to sexually exploit them again and again but also some of their mothers. In Siraj-Ud-Doula, the Madrasha teacher, accused of burning his student Nusrat dead, there may be his fitting partner in crime.
Not a day passes without horrific violence and sex crimes in this country. What is repugnant is that the perpetrators of mindless cruelty or sexual violation have their supporters either in their families or even in the influential quarters of community. In case of Nusrat's murder, the arrest of an officer-in-charge proves how some men in uniform also gang up with the criminals to form a vicious cycle. Only in one case, an old man -the father of a rapist and murderer of his younger sister-in-law had felt the shock so deeply at his son's bestial act that immediately after receiving the shameful news he committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree. The rapist who fled after rape and murder was, however, arrested by the police. Will he ever feel the remorse his father felt simply because the old man fathered this hellish creature?
The rot set in the social body could not assume this epidemic form if families and communities stood guard against the mental aberration. The aberration stems from widespread moral bankruptcy. When the influential and the privileged amass money by corrupt means, they need henchmen or lackeys who would commit any crime at the formers' bidding. The country's inadequate investment in human resources creates no opportunities for the neglected and the underclass to get out of the miseries they are in. Wisdom dictates that an ever increasing amount of national resources is spent on creation of an environment for the poor and the uneducated to get educated, learn new skills and trades in order to improve the quality of their lives.
The invasion of modern gadgets has in fact overwhelmed society, many members of which are unable to responsibly handle those appliances. Abuse of those gadgets is likely to happen as a result of the failure to strike a balance between the illusion and reality. This is happening to a large extent in Bangladesh because the gap between frustration with the life most people lead and the colourful life presented courtesy of advertisement, films along with accumulation of stinking wealth by a few without accountability prompts them to do the unthinkable.
Society has lost its poise. In a rat race for money and social influence, people no longer value honesty, simple living and moral uprightness. In the absence of such virtues, practice of sports and physical exercise and most importantly pursuit of healthy culture, deviation and detraction from social norms and values have become the order of the day. Missing is the integrity of character. Thus crimes have become contagious. No wonder, once a crime of a bizarre type is committed many get encouraged to repeat the same. A spree of child atrocities was noticed last year. This is indicative that there are idle brains that look for sadistic pleasure or a false sense of heroism in order to satisfy their ego or hanker after the unreachable.
The country may do appreciably well in terms of sustainable development goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations (UN) but if it cannot resist the rot within, its future looks grim. The fact that the brighter and more capable young people are migrating to better climes with employment has its root in the untenable social environment here. The country needed their service more than ever before. In the face of the fourth industrial revolution, they could contribute more positively than ever before. Instead, society is turning into an intractable jungle with hostility between and among classes or even individuals getting the better of sobriety and common senses. Social thinkers must come forward to suggest how to address the malaise and arrest the psychic degeneration.