BLAST works at all levels of the justice system to advocate for the recognition and realization of women’s human rights. Through the Gopibagh Legal Aid Clinic and its Unit Offices, BLAST conducts awareness trainings for women and girls to learn about their legal rights in relation to matters affecting their daily lives. BLAST’s mediation services overwhelmingly benefit women and facilitate realizing their rights in family, land and labour matters. BLAST’s litigation clients are also predominantly poor and disadvantaged women, usually seeking assistance in relation to family or matrimonial disputes, or following complaints or threats of violence.
BLAST is involved at all levels of the justice system in ensuring that female victims of crime are not put in jail. While safe custody may facilitate security for certain victims of crimes, it furthers violations of the right to liberty where women and girls find themselves in safe custody sometimes in jail, without their knowledge or consent. And despite the clear prohibition on such safe custody being in jails, as specified in the Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain, 2000. Women are also sometimes placed in “safe” custody against their wishes, depriving them of their right to liberty. BLAST provides legal aid to women in such cases and also undertakes public interest litigation regarding this matter.
BLAST recently obtained two significant High Court judgments regarding the rights of women in Bangladesh. In one case in which BLAST served as an intervenor, a High Court Division Bench determined that forcing women to wear veils or cover their heads was a violation of women’s fundamental rights under the Constitution. In another case, a High Court Division Bench declared infliction of all kinds of extra-judicial punishment, including extra-judicial punishment by local salish in the name of fatwa, to be illegal and without any lawful authority. These ‘fatwas’ are overwhelmingly directed against women. The Court held that any person involved, present, participating or assisting in any such conviction or execution would come under purview of the offences under the Penal Code and be subject to punishment.
Public Interest Litigation
- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and others vs Bangladesh and others [Extra-Judicial Penalties Case]
Writ Petition No. 5863 of 2009 with
Writ Petition No.754 of 2010 and
Writ Petition No.4275 of 2010.
- Advocate Salauddin Dolon v Bangladesh [Forced Veiling Case]
Writ Petition No. 4495 of 2009
- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust vs. Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and others [Safe Custody Case]
Writ Petition No. 1157 of 1997
- Mosammat Nasrin Akhter and others vs. Bangladesh [Gender Discrimination in Public Employment Case]
Writ Petition No. 6309 of 2003
- BLAST and ASK vs. Bangladesh and others [Family Courts in Chittagong Hill Tracts Case]
Writ Petition No. 2813 of 2009
- BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh and others ‘Recognition of Mother as Guardian Case]
Writ Petition No. 5343 of 2009