This is so terrible and while not as massive in scale and execution as the orchestrated brutality that happened during the independence of Bangladesh, still heartbreaking to see this repeated in that region.
During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias from Jamaat e Islami raped between two and four hundred thousand Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape. During the war, a fatwa in Pakistan declared that the Bengali freedom fighters were “Hindus” and that their women could be taken as the “booty of war”. Imams and Muslim religious leaders publicly declared that the Bengali women were gonimoter maal (war booty) and thus they openly supported the rape of Bengali women by the Pakistani Army. Pakistani soldiers raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls.
The attacks were led by General Tikka Khan, who was the architect of Operation Searchlight and was given the name the “butcher of Bengal” by the Bengalis for his actions. Khan said—when reminded on 27 March 1971 that he was in charge of a majority province—”I will reduce this majority to a minority”. Bina D’Costa believes an anecdote used by Khan is significant, in that it provides proof of the mass rapes being a deliberate strategy. In Jessore, while speaking with a group of journalists Khan was reported to have said, “Pehle inko Mussalman karo” (First, make them Muslim). D’Costa argues that this shows that in the highest echelons of the armed forces the Bengalis were perceived as being disloyal Muslims and unpatriotic Pakistanis.
The perpetrators conducted nighttime raids, assaulting women in their villages, often in front of their families, as part of the terror campaign. Victims aged 8 to 75 were also kidnapped and held in special camps where they were repeatedly assaulted. Many of those held in the camps were murdered or committed suicide, with some taking their own lives by using their hair to hang themselves; the soldiers responded to these suicides by cutting the women’s hair off. Time magazine reported on 563 girls who had been kidnapped and held by the military; all of them were between three and five months pregnant when the military began to release them.Some women were forcibly used as prostitutes. While the Pakistani government estimated the number of rapes in the hundreds, other estimates range between 200,000 and 400,000. The Pakistani government had tried to censor reports coming out of the region, but media reports on the atrocities did reach the public worldwide, and gave rise to widespread international public support for the liberation movement.
In what has been described by Jenneke Arens as a deliberate attempt to destroy an ethnic group, many of those assaulted were raped, murdered and then bayoneted in the genitalia. Adam Jones), a political scientist, has said that one of the reasons for the mass rapes was to undermine Bengali society through the “dishonoring” of Bengali women and that some women were raped until they died or were killed following repeated attacks. The Pakistani army also raped Bengali males. The men, when passing through a checkpoint, would be ordered to prove they were circumcised, and this is where the rapes usually happened. The International Commission of Jurists concluded that the atrocities carried out by the Pakistan armed forces “were part of a deliberate policy by a disciplined force”. The writer Mulk Raj Anand said of the Pakistani army actions, “The rapes were so systematic and pervasive that they had to be conscious Army policy, “planned by the West Pakistanis in a deliberate effort to create a new race” or to dilute Bengali nationalism”. Amita Malik, reporting from Bangladesh following the Pakistan armed forces surrender, wrote that one West Pakistani soldier said: “We are going. But we are leaving our Seed behind”.