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Justice N t Served

By Afreen Khan and Nusrat

The law and order situation in Dhaka has been deteriorating steadily over the last few years. Reports about rapes, murders and kidnappings can be seen on the front pages of the newspapers almost everyday. In recent years Bangladesh's legal system has come under severe criticism. The system is overburdened with cases, which are, for some reason or the other, stalled. In many cases, justice is not being served. The case that comes immediately to mind is the Shazneen murder case.

Shazneen Tasnim Rahman, the youngest daughter of Latifur Rahman, was raped and murdered on the 23rd of April 1998. Shazneen was only 15 when she was raped and brutally murdered at her Gulshan residence. Shazneen's death was mourned not only by her family but the entire nation mourned the loss of a vibrant, innocent young girl. Shazneen's death caused an outburst of emotions.

The public was no longer willing to sit back quietly. Parents, teachers and students organized processions and rallies. People had expected the trial to be quick and efficient and they had eagerly awaited the verdict. However, for almost six years, stories about the Shazneen case have haunted society.
On September 4, 1998 a rape case was filed against Shahid, the prime accused, and six others. The accused Minu, Parvin, Humayun (now dead) confessed to the murder of Shazneen Rahman but only Shahid gave a confessional statement in the rape case. However, the trial has dragged on for ages. No one seems to be able to give an explanation for why the trial has been allowed to continue for so long.

Heinous crimes such as rape and murder have become such a common occurrence in Dhaka, that we are no longer shocked by them. Punishment for such crimes is so rare, that criminals consider themselves to be above the law. The public has lost its faith on the legal system. Criminals often manage to get away with their crimes because of the inefficiency of the police force and because of a lack of evidence. Investigations are hampered by a lack of resources and necessary equipment. This is also another reason why cases remain stalled.

Recently, however, a few cases were resolved surprisingly quickly, mainly due to the introduction of the "Speedy Trial Act". Consider, for example, the case of Fahima, a thirteen-year-old girl, who committed suicide after she was raped by three mastaans in her neighborhood. Her case was stalled for almost ten months because there were no eyewitnesses. However, after her case was transferred to the speedy tribunal, a verdict was delivered in about six weeks only. But how many cases are actually considered under this act?

A majority of the cases remain unsolved, and the criminals are allowed to roam around freely, awaiting their next victim. Resolving only a handful of crimes under this act will not solve the problems that are plaguing society. Unless all similar cases are dealt with quickly and efficiently, the law and order situation in Dhaka will not improve.Society's plea for justice is falling on deaf years. The law and order situation in Dhaka is worsening day by day. Rather than trying to find a solution, people are always looking for someone to blame. It is always the police force, the government or the legal system that comes under criticism. We are so busy blaming each other that no one seems to be bothered about the simple fact that justice is not being served. Shazneen's family and the families of other victims, are the ones who are suffering the most.

They have not only lost a loved one, but they have had to wait patiently for so long, for a verdict to be delivered. Why should we have to wait so long for justice to be served? Why do so many cases remain unsolved? Why do so many criminals remain unpunished for their brutal acts? It is really sad that no one has an answer to these questions. It is really sad that we even have to ask these questions.


Learn French at Alliance Francaise

by, Zafeer A.Khan

While the prospect of learning a new language may or may not be appealing to you, I suggest you give it a try because you never know where you might end up. Take it like an adventure as my professor said. When I went to my first class I thought it would be like another of my school classes. But I was surprised to find a completely different environment. My teacher M. Khaja Ahmed is very friendly and he sure makes learning French more fun than work. He constantly encourages us and happily accepts whatever we ask as long as it is in French, may it be wrong or right. Of course he corrects us but the main thing is we try and have confidence.

In my first class he strictly announced other languages are prohibited as long as we are in the class. And he will give all his directions in French (until and unless something very hard comes up) and if we don't understand something we have to email him later on. So I thought how is it possible I don't know even a little bit of French and realized in the end it might have been a big loss to come here. But as our class progressed not only did I get the hang of everything I was able to understand almost everything that he said. Of course thanks to his elaborate acting with hands and face, this is also something that makes the class fun, trying to guess before someone else what he is trying to say.

The best way to learn any language is to speak it frequently. So every week I end up speaking French for six hours (during the class). Then the book we follow is filled with quiz, image identification and selecting the right answer after listening to a dialogue. Maybe now it doesn't sound like fun but when you do it, trust me, it's fun. And it's not about getting all of them right, it's more about whether you have understood and can identify some parts. In the process you will learn the language. While doing the first chapter test I found it very hard and now after completing the second chapter I think the first one was a lot easier. And slowly each chapter seems more and more easier as my French is slowly improving. By just finishing the first chapter I can present myself completely in French, my name, address, age, likes, dislikes, what my parents do, what I do and so on. Unfortunately my confidence was cut short when one of my cousins who just did a preliminary course in French at his university could say everything that I could. Well patience is virtue; soon I will know more (hopefully).

There are two types of course, extensive and intensive. Intensive is twice a week for 3 hours. Class hours 9:00 to 12:00 pm or 5:45pm to 9:00 pm. Total class 66 hours.
Level-1 (Duration 6 months):
Intensive-A-3 months-Tk. 4000(course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
Intensive-B-3 months-Tk. 4000(course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
Level-2 (Duration 6 months):
Intensive-C-3 months-Tk. 3600(course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
Intensive-D-3 months-Tk. 3600(course fee) + Tk. 900 (Textbook)
For level-3 & level-4 course duration will be same and course fees to be paid in same way like level-2 & the exam fees Tk. 1100 for DL/DS/CCIP and Tk. 500 for DELF each unit.
Extensive Courses are twice a week each for 1.5 hours. Class hours between 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Total class 33 hours.
Level 1 (Duration 1 year):
3 months-Tk. 2000 (course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
3 months-Tk. 2000 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 2000 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 2000 (course fee) + Tk. 900 (Exam CEFP-1)
Level-2 (Duration 1 year):
3 months-Tk. 1800 (course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
3 months-Tk. 1800 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 1800 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 1800 (course fee) + Tk. 900(Exam CEFP-2)
Level-3 (Duration 1 year):
3 months-Tk. 1600 (course fee) + Tk. 1000 (Textbook)
3 months-Tk. 1600 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 1600 (course fee)
3 months-Tk. 1600 (course fee) + Tk. 1100(Exam DL)
For level-4 duration will be same and course fees have to be paid in same way as level-2 and exam fee Tk.1100 for DL/DS/CCIP and Tk.500 for DELF each unit. Individual certificate will be give after successful completion of each level, from Alliance Française de Paris.

Payment for each session must be paid in advance at the registration time and stamp-size photograph is needed for making Identity Card. Once registered in a section that cannot be changed and reimbursement can be done before the end of first week. For more information you can go to the following website: www.geocities.com/afdacca or email at alliance@gononet.com

Currently a session is already going on and will end on the 9th of September, so you can start the session that will most probably start by the end of September.

Book Review


The novel 'To Kill A Mockingbird' has sold over 30 million copies and won itself the highly acclaimed Pulitzer Prize and any reader who picks up this cynical and refreshing piece by Ms. Harper Lee will immediately know why this book has received such popularity and accolade. This novel is a classic in its own essence, a story that leaves its readers content and yet contemplating at the same time. The book is written from the viewpoint of a child, a rowdy, unladylike and outspoken 9-year-old girl who observes and comments on the irrational and often hilarious reactions of the adults to different incidents that take place in her hometown Maycomb. Readers are left with the realisation that children often see truth in the face unlike adults who turn a blind eye to it and the readers are left amused by the simplicity and the quintessence of Ms. Lee's way with words.

We are firstly introduced to the Finch family during the summer before which Jean Louise Finch a.k.a Scout, our sarcastic host, is about to join school. As we read about the summer adventures of Scout, her older brother Jem, their raconteur of a friend Dill and Atticus Finch, their very patient father who is a lawyer, we are introduced to the comical history of Maycomb, its conquerors and its ancestors and get Scout's account of her family, their neighbours and also the other residents. The children's aim is to somehow spot Boo Radley, the man next door who is reportedly crazy and has never left the house.

Scout's encounter of her first year in school is highly comical as her new teacher constantly scolds her because she already knows how to read and write thanks to Atticus. Summer brings Dill back to Maycomb and their attempts almost get their heads shot off when they trespass the Radley property. Back in school, Scout and Jem are constantly insulted for being the offsprings of the 'nigger-lover' Finch. Soon Atticus discloses to his children that he is defending a Negro named Tom Robinson who has been charged with the rape and assault of a white teenage girl Mayella Ewells. Atticus' decision is of course not acceptable to most Maycomb residents and also to the other Finches, the town's prominent lawyer is out defending a black man. Jem and Scout get bullied by schoolmates and neighbours alike, we see through the curious and shocked eyes of two children the racial prejudice, the abhorrence and the small-mindedness of a town during the 1940's. Very few white well-wishers come around, among them the sheriff Heck Tate and Ms. Maudie, and Jem and Scout are fascinated by the immense support and warmth of the town's Negro community.

As the trial day looms closer, Atticus Finch is almost attacked by some townsmen as he sits guard in front of the jailhouse holding Tom Robinson, and is saved by the unlikely intervention of the two young Finches and Dill. The trial day resembles a carnival; black and white folks alike have immense interest in the outcome of the trial. Despite having a convincing defence, Tom Robinson is found guilty, the children are shocked, and most whites are content while the blacks have lost yet again, but they are highly grateful to Atticus Finch. Days after Mr. Finch files for a retrial, Tom is shot dead while trying to escape from jail. Jem and Scout's world turns upside down once more and to make matters worse, Mayella Ewell's father swears to get even with Atticus for defending a Negro. Atticus reassures his children it was a bluff but he is proved wrong for the first time in the story when Mr. Ewell tries to murder Jem and Scout on Halloween night. The one person who they have been trying to spot for ages, Boo Radley, saves them. Mr. Ewell dies accidentally during the struggle. In the end, the young Finches are home safe with their father and Scout finds a new friend in the clumsy, shy Boo Radley.

The story's title often leaves readers perplexed, Atticus explains during the story that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird as it absolutely harmless and innocent, this line reflects the aging lawyer's dedication as he tries to save Tom's life. The story's realistic setting and outcome and its down-to-earth approach to life is what makes this story timeless. There is humour and life in every page and the course of the trial is gripping though with a tragic ending. Readers are left with a lot of reflections as they turn over the last page; the book leaves a lasting impact.

By Afreen Khan






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