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Bangladesh court jails two for life over bus rape

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A Bangladesh court jailed a bus driver and his helper for life on Thursday for the rape of a teenage girl, a crime that sparked angry protests in the country.

A district judge in the town of Manikganj delivered the sentences after finding the helper guilty of raping the garment worker, while the driver was convicted of aiding and abetting him, prosecutor Abdus Salam told a news agency.

The attack in January 2013 prompted protests in Dhaka and Manikganj, some 70 kilometres (50 miles) away, and came one month after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in the Indian capital, which unleashed anger over treatment of women.

“Finding the 17-year-old garment worker alone on the bus, the driver first attempted to rape her on the moving vehicle. But later they stopped the bus near a river station where the helper raped her with the driver aiding him,” Salam said.

“They are both sentenced to life terms, which means each of them must serve a minimum 32 years in jail,” he said.

Civic groups had demanded tough punishments for the pair, while police launched a major hunt for them.

Violence against women is a serious problem in Bangladesh, although most rapes and assaults go unreported because of the social stigma attached to such crimes in the deeply conservative country.

A recent survey by the state-run statistics bureau found about 87 percent of the 12,600 married women questioned said they were abused by their husbands.

About half of these said the injuries inflicted were severe enough to require treatment in hospital.

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