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Women victims of violence lack support in Bangladesh

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Odhikar, a FORUM-ASIA member in Bangladesh, released the report “Ending Impunity to Acid Violence and Rape” on 28 January. It highlights the need for effective mechanisms to support the victims of acid violence and rape.
(Bangkok) Odhikar, a FORUM-ASIA member in Bangladesh, published the report “Ending Impunity to Acid Violence and Rape” on 28 January. The report, which is an outcome of its programme concluded in December 2007, highlights the need for effective mechanisms to support the victims of acid violence and rape.

“Gender violence is a major issue in Bangladesh and, unfortunately, one that is neglected by various government agencies”, said the report. The criminal laws to protect women are not enough, because of “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 is an outcome from the awareness-raising programme that Odhikar and Action Aid Bangladesh organised from March to December last year. Titled as “Ending Impunity to Acid Violence and Rape”, it aimed to “create an effective and friendly environment of support mechanisms for the victims of acid violence and rape by the relevant state officials”.

Most of women who experience violence are from impoverished sections of the society, such as rural areas.  “Acid violence”, which is throwing acid of similar corrosive substance to women, has become a common form of violence against women in the country. 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.

In 2007, 96 women became the victims of this acid violence. The report also writes that a large majority of the victims are between 14 to 18 years old. As the consequence they will give up their education. In many cases, the perpetrator bribes the police to evade arrest or make them reject the file. This leads the victim and her family also to be victims of continuous threats.

“The victims are largely from the poor and underprivileged sections of society, in many cases contrary to the perpetrators. Since the poor struggle for access to justice, acid and rape victims face the same barriers”, the report said.

The programme had specific purposes of “ensuring legal support and justice to victims and monitoring the implementation of the Acid Laws”, including encouraging the setting up of a District Acid Control Committee in all over the country. Odhikar reached to police, judges, lawyers and local administration officials to advocate the consequence of the acid and rape victims, seeking for their cooperation for punishment of the perpetrators.