On Thursday, around 11am, 50 women's rights activists from Dhaka and other areas gathered in a human chain at Narsingdi railway station, protesting the harassment of a woman at the same location over her attire.
At the same time, around 1.5 kilometres away in front of the Narsingdi Press Club, another human chain had formed – this one demanding the release of Marzia Akhter Shila, the woman arrested over the harassment incident.
Shirin Akter, a local lawyer present at the second human chain, said Marzia's arrest was unacceptable as she was not the one who had instigated the assault.
Marzia's defence lawyer, Shirin Akter Shelly, who has not disguised her disdain for the victim or the many who had come to Narsingdi in solidarity with her, shares the same sentiment.
Shirin Akter is adamant that her client is innocent, arguing that a woman cannot sexually harass another woman as the case against Marzia says.
Other renowned experts, however, differ in this view, saying such a concept was wrong and outdated.
Shirin Akter, meanwhile, has emerged as the new protagonist in this incident. Styling herself as an embattled crusader against a powerful conspiracy, she has taken Marzia's case free of charge.
She has also been freely posting pictures of the victim on her Facebook, calling her a "modern woman" but only to openly criticise her attire all over again.
In a conversation with The Business Standard, Shirin, an advocate at the Narsingdi Judge Court and coordinator of Reza Kibria's Gono Odhikar Parishad in the district, said she believes that it was very alarming that a group of "rowdy, half-naked and spoiled" girls visited the district after the incident.
"Narsingdi cannot be taken over by these kinds of spoiled girls. I urge all the countrymen to speak up against this audacity of the protestors and Marzia's arrest," she said.
She also said even the affluent society in Narsingdi did not wear such attire in public or behave the way "the rowdy Dhaka girl did on that day."
Shirin has already said these, among other things, before on her social media pages.
She pointed out that the woman seen on CCTV footage and social media videos was not the same woman as the one arrested.
"RAB did not arrest the main accused – the one chasing the girl and tearing the upper part of her top. Marzia is not that person. Law enforcement agencies only published some parts of the entire video, where the girl was chased and took shelter at the railway station master's room. They did not show the previous video where the alleged victim also misbehaved and threatened the locals," she claimed.
In her latest post on Facebook, Shirin uploaded another version of the video footage of the incident.
Explaining it, she said it was the victim and her "boyfriend" who were the ones misbehaving. She also claimed that their behaviour and not their attire angered the crowd.
In the video, however, a man could clearly be heard asking the girl why she had worn such a dress.
Shirin, however, does not focus on that and chooses to point to another woman who she claims is Marzia.
"Marzia is an elderly woman. She heard some men discussing the girl's clothes so she asked her to cover herself up with a scarf. The girl and her two friends then started hurling abuses at Marzia," she claimed in the video.
Although she states the attire wasn't the issue, in her own video, one from 30 May, which has over 600 likes, she says while Marzia was innocent, if Shirin, herself, was present on that day, then the girl's fate would be worse.
Expressing her love for her faith in the video, she says she, too, is from this generation. "You aren't smart just because you are naked. If I was there, I would beat her up and throw her in the river. Then I would bring her parents and ask them how they could allow their daughter to wear such a dress. The parents need to be judged first," she says.
Asked about her offensive remarks, Shirin said she was just telling the truth. She also lashed out at the media for not providing "authentic news".
"I am saying this on my own alone," said Shirin, who had run for the vice chairman post of the upazila.
She said she had known Marzia for 20 years and the arrestee was a "decent, poor woman".
"She did not do anything wrong. She is the sole bread earner of her family and has a daughter who has a brain tumour. Marzia is the victim here, so I decided to stand for her."
When pointed out that some of her remarks sounded like victim-blaming and she could be violating digital security laws, she said, "I have nothing to say about this because an innocent woman is in danger and needs to be rescued."
The lawyer also said the sections under which the case against Marzia was filed were faulty.
"Under which section was the case filed? The accused locals did not try to sexually assault the victim. Also, Marzia is a woman; she had no intention of sexually assaulting the victim. So, filing the case under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act is faulty. Even an accused under sections 143, 323 and 506 of the Penal Code was not granted remand as it was not a pre-planned attack," she said.
She termed Marzia's arrest as a heavy-handed approach by RAB.
Section 10 of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act deals with the unlawful or indecent touch of a woman or child's sexual organ with the object of satisfying one's sexual desire.
Section 30 deals with a person providing the incentive to commit an offence under this Act and "as a result of that instigation the offence is committed or an attempt is made to commit the offence or if a person assists another person in committing an offence".
Sections 143, 323 and 506 of the Penal Code, on the other hand, deal with unlawful assembly, punishment for voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.
Is there a case?
Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer, told TBS that nowhere in the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act was it stated that women cannot sexually harass another woman.
The human rights lawyer cited the example of a case in which a female official sexually harassed another female foreign ministry official and a civil case is ongoing. "It is nothing more than a prehistoric notion that women cannot sexually harass," he said.
Women's rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Ishrat Hassan told TBS that the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act was applicable for both men and women.
She also said the defence lawyer was victim-blaming.
"The victim of the case can file another case under the Digital Security Act against the defence lawyer as she is spreading misinformation and victim blaming on social platforms. It's also a part of contempt of court and the state counsellor can inform the court with all the evidence," she said.
Meanwhile, the victim expressed satisfaction with the arrests and hoped its impact could be felt across the country.
She, however, said she was still haunted by the events of that day.
"I did not dare take part in the physical protests so that no one could point a finger at my parents. Now I understand that not all people are the same. I am grateful to those who are with me."