Authorities in Bangladesh are looking for a potential serial-killer vigilante after three men accused of rape were found dead with notes around their necks, according to the Daily Star - invoking images of Showtime's fictional psychopath with a golden heart, Dexter.
Instead of "Dexter," however, the killer left notes on the body signed "Hercules."
"I am Rakib. I am the rapist of a madrasa girl…of Bhandaria. This is the consequence of a rapist. Be aware rapists…Hercules," read the note attached to the body of 20-year-old accused rapist Rakib Hossain, one of two men who stood accused of participating in the gang rape of a madrasa student.
Hossain, a law student at a private university, was found with a bullet wound to the head according to the officer in charge of the Rajapur Police Station, Md Jahidul Islam.
On January 14, a madrasa student was allegedly gang raped by two men when she was on the way to her grandparents' house.
Her father filed a case with Bhandaria Police Station accusing Sajal and Rakib on January 17.
On January 24, police recovered Sajal's bullet-hit body in Jhalakathi's Kathalia upazila, with a similar note hanging round the neck.
Sajal's father Shah Alam Jommadar lodged a case with Kathalia Police Station over his son's murder on January 26, said Md Eanamul Haque, officer-in-charge of the police station. -Daily Star
A third victim was one of four men accused of gang-raping a government worker in Savar, located near the capital city of Dhaka, on January 7 - around 270 kilometers (170 miles) away. The alleged rape victim was found dead hours after reporting the incident.
On January 17, police found the body of Ripon, 39, a key suspect in the gang rape and murder of a female garment worker, in Savar on the outskirts of the capital, with a similar note hanging around the neck.
In the early hours of January 7, an 18-year-old girl was found dead in her house in Ashulia's Berun area, hours after she had filed a case with Ashulia Police Station against Ripon and three other co-workers for raping her.
Later, the girl's father filed another case with Ashulia Police Station accusing Ripon and the three others of murdering his daughter. --Daily Star
"I am Pirojpur Bhandaria’s … rapist Rakib," read the note around Ripon's neck, according to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper.
All three victims were found dead with bullet wounds and notes within the last two weeks.
According to a 2015 special report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, rape is the second-most common form of violence committed against Bangladeshi females - while the perpetrators are rarely punished.
"In Bangladesh, women’s access to justice and participation in political and public life are particularly affected by violence against women," reads the report by law professor Rashida Manjoo of the University of Cape Town. According to her report, limited resources, poor infrastructure and a lack of legal experts make it difficult for women to seek legal remedies after being raped.
According to Reuters, Dhaka was ranked the seventh-most dangerous city in the world for women in 2017, and fourth when it comes to sexual violence in particular. Karachi, Pakistan, ranks #1.
Police in Dhaka arrested 10 men last month in connection with the alleged rape of a woman who voted against the prime minister in Bangladesh’s December election.
The woman’s husband told Reuters that a group of 10-12 men barged into their house in the southeastern district of Noakhali on the night of the election, tied up him and his four children inside the house, and assaulted her.
The husband said she was raped because she voted for the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. -Global News
In short, rape is so common in Bangladesh that it's used as an intimidation tactic. Perhaps this will all change if Hercules continues his murder spree.