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Laws Sans Implementation –Women Victims of Violence in Bangladesh

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Odhikar, a FORUM-ASIA member, and Action Aid Bangladesh issued the report “Acid Violence and Rape –Ending Impunity” in August. Many women who are subject to violence in Bangladesh die through suicides, real or apparent. Despite the criminal laws for protection, cases of domestic violence and rape have not ceased.
Odhikar, a member organisation of FORUM-ASIA, and Action Aid Bangladesh (AAB) issued the report “Acid Violence and Rape –Ending Impunity” in August, 2007. Many women who are subjected to violence in Bangladesh die by suicide, real or apparent. In spite of the criminal laws to protect them, the cases of domestic violence and rape do not cease.

According to the report, in 2006 there were 105 cases of "acid attacks" on women, on whom acid of similar corrosive substance was thrown. The number was 191 in 2004, 104 in 2005. Women’s rejection of marriage proposal or sexual advances is one of the reasons for the crime. It leaves physical and psychological trauma on the victims.

The Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act 2000 lists severe penalties for the perpetrators. The Acid Crime Control Act 2002 and the Acid Control Act 2002 were approved in 2002. The laws were promulgated for swift punishment of perpetrators. Under the latter act, the National Acid Control Council was set up, acid and similar substances became products that need licence to be sold and the government arranged a fund for treatment of the victims and promotion on danger of acid. Then why hasn’t there been any dramatic drop of the cases?

The major reasons are: “barriers to accessing the justice system itself, police corruption, mismanagement of vital evidence, ignorance of the law and a lack of proper medical reports.” The report adds that “lack of implementation of the law” is causing the present situation.

The number of the victims is high in impoverished sections of the country, especially in rural areas, still struggling to access to administration for justice. Illegal acid trade is still going on. Many doctors do not want to present medical evidence. In the court there are not enough judicial officers, and this causes delay of legal procedures. Since the police is overburdened already, many NGOs have called for the formation of a separate department, but the present situation does not seem to change.

Since March 2007, Odhikar and AAB have collaborated to raise awareness of rape, acid violence and the related laws. Their project, “Ending Impunity of Acid Violence and Rape,” will end in December 2007. The project includes legal support to the victims, monitoring the implementation of the laws and organising collective action against the perpetrators. To carry out this advocacy, Odhikar will work with governmental organisations, mass media and other NGOs.

Please click here to view the full Report (in .pdf).