A total of 50,010 cases were filed over violence against women and children in 2019, according to Supreme Court data
Bangladesh witnessed an alarming number of cases filed over violence against women and children in 2019, adding to an already staggering number of pending cases.
A total of 50,010 cases were filed over violence against women and children in 2019, according to Supreme Court data.
No fewer than 31,539 cases were at the trial stage for more than five years as of December 31 last year. However, the number was much bigger in mid-2019 when there were 34,233 such cases.
The proceedings in 1,175 cases were stalled due to stay orders passed by the apex court throughout last year. According to the law, a verdict should be pronounced within six months.
Victims, lawyers and rights activists say the delays in justice, legal tangles and lack of security for victims have been encouraging violence against women and children.
A case study
House tutor Shariful Islam married his student Rahima Begum (not her real name), after the two were in a relationship for several years on September 28, 2017. After the marriage, Rahima learnt that Shariful was already married.
When she spoke up against Shariful, he started showing his true colours by beating her regularly.
Later, Shariful demanded Tk10 lakh in dowry as he did not have a job. When he managed to get a job, he divorced her on February 13, 2018.
Rahima filed a case against him on September 15 the same year and he was even arrested. However, Shariful was then freed on bail.
Rahima’s lawyer Advocate Mithun Mazumder said Shariful has repeatedly been offering to negotiate with her to settle the case against him.
“Things are getting tougher as she is not getting support from her own family because she married Shariful on her own,” the lawyer said.
“Taking advantage of the situation and the lengthy trial procedure, Shariful has dared to come up with the offer of negotiations,” Mithun added.
Victims demotivated because of lengthy trial
Ranu Akter, who sued her husband Khurshed Alam on November 26 last year for torturing her over dowry, said the accused has been threatening her since he was freed on bail.
“He is threatening me with dire consequences if I do not withdraw the case,” said Ranu, also the mother of a five-year-old boy.
“Recently, Khurshed tricked my son into going to his house and I fear he may emotionally blackmail me and force me into giving him Tk5 lakh in dowry” she added.
Salma Ali, president of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA), said the victims in most cases did not feel motivated to approach police or the court for justice, fearing unwanted harassment due to delays and complications in the trial process.
“Witnesses not appearing before the court because of the pressure from the accused is another major reason for the cases to remain undisposed of too long,” she added.
The political influence of the accused is another cause for the situation, she further said.
Supreme Court lawyer advocate Fawzia Karim Firoze recently told the newspaper that the delay is mainly happening due to the discriminatory nature of laws.