Rape Law Reform


RAPE LAW REFORM NOW CAMPAIGN


About the Campaign

Despite increasing reports of rape in the media, conviction rates remain low and rapists continue to enjoy impunity. Studies demonstrate that the vast majority of rape victims and survivors still do not come to court to seek redress. When they do, they routinely face threats and reprisals (especially if the accused is from an influential background), causing them to abandon the prosecution. Even where cases are filed, investigations concluded, and trials take place, there are very few convictions.[1]The vast majority of rape victims and survivors are thus precluded from seeking justice, for one reason or another, including the discrimination inherent in the existing rape laws and their application. This ultimately contributes to a culture of impunity for rape.

It is in this context that BLAST launched the Rape Law Reform Now campaign in 2018 to identify protection gaps in existing rape legislation which continue to perpetuate impunity and miscarriages of justice, and act as a concerted advocacy movement to demand necessary legal and institutional reform.

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Nari-o-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain 2000 (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000), a law enacted with a view to eliminate violence against women and children in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh’s express commitment to uphold gender equality and reduce Gender Based Violence (GBV) through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda (particularly SDGs 5 and 16) has created an opening for civil society to demand much needed reform of our rape laws to ensure justice without delay or discrimination.  

Campaign Activities

I. Expert Consultations

As part of this campaign, we hold a series of expert consultation seminars and meetings with relevant stakeholders, such as lawyers, academics, judges, law enforcement officers and activists. In 2018, we held expert consultations on the following thematic areas:


2. National Conference

The expert consultations held in 2018 led to the first ever National Conference on Rape Law Reform which brought together key justice sector actors and human rights activists working on ensuring justice for rape.

The Conference opened with a session where representatives from marginalised communities spoke about the experiences of rape survivors from their communities and the additional hurdles they face when seeking justice for rape. This was designed to tie in with UN Women’s #HearMeToo movement as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The Conference brought together lawyers, judges, academics, researchers, government officials, law enforcement officers, journalists, human rights and community activists from across the country to discuss the need to reform existing rape laws in to ensure holistic, effective and inclusive justice for rape survivors and end impunity for rape.

You can read a copy of the declarations here.

3. Research and Publications

Research is central to the Rape Reform Now campaign and we have launched the Rape Law Reform Research Reports series to generate evidence based advocacy for reform. We are researching into the history of rape law reform in Bangladesh and analysing all the reported judgments on rape[2] under the Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act) 2000 with a view to further understand common trends in rape cases such as:


4. Coalition on Rape Law Reform 

In taking the Rape Law Reform Now campaign forward and making the declarations a reality, it was recognised in the consultations and the conference that a concerted effort between relevant stakeholders is of utmost importance. To this end we up a Coalition on Rape Law Reform comprising of different organisations working on ensuring justice for rape, such as Naripokkho, BRAC Human Rights and Legal Services, Bangladesh Mahila Porishad, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association and others. 

The Coalition on Rape Law Reform acts as a pressure group for building momentum on key reform demands of the campaign. Advocacy and awareness activities are conducted at both the policy and grassroots level is conducted using the vast collective networks of the organisations who are part of the Coalition.


Rape Law Reform Now C
ampaign in the News


Contact

If you wish to learn more about our Rape Law Reform Now campaign, or wish to support it and/or get involved, please get in touch with our campaign lead: Taqbir Huda, Research Specialist, BLAST at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



[1]For example, a recent study by Prothom Alo found that out of the 4,277 violence against women cases (the vast majority of which were rape cases) disposed in Nari-O-Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunals in Dhaka district between 2002 and 2016, the accused was sentenced to punishment in less than 3% of the cases. See: Tahmina, Q. A. & Bhowmik, P., “Shaja Matro Tin Shotangsho: Dhaka Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal” [Punishment in Only 3% of Cases: Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Tribunal, Dhaka] Prothoma (2018).

[2] In considering reported rape judgments, we will be looking at the six oldest and most reliable law reports in Bangladesh: Dhaka Law Reports (DLR), Bangladesh Legal Decisions (BLD), Bangladesh Law Chronicles (BLC), Bangladesh Law Times (BLT), Appellate Division Cases (ADC) and Mainstream Law Reports (MLR).

 

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