Coordination in trial proceedings required to ensure justice in rape cases
Coordination is required in every stage of the trial proceedings - from the filing of a case to the deliberation of the verdict - in order to ensure justice for victims of rape cases, speakers said on Monday.
Addressing the issue of lack of coordination, it has become crucial since the conviction rate in rape cases are lesser than expectations, they added.
They came up with the demand at “National dialogue on action against sexual violence” and the inauguration of “16 days of activism against gender-based violence” held at a city hotel on Monday. Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and the United Nations in Bangladesh jointly organized the event.
“From the filling of a case to the deliberation of the verdict, there are many stages in the trial proceedings, all of which makes a chain. Trial proceedings are like a chain made of these stages. A single break in the stages can break the chain entirely which makes it difficult to ensure conviction in rape cases,” said Judge Jayasri Samaddar of the Third Special Tribunal for Prevention of Women & Children Repression, while speaking as a panellist in a session titled “Response to sexual violence.”
“Among the stages, the investigation and medical test of a rape victim is most important. A faulty investigation may disrupt the process of the case since faulty investigations lead to faulty charge sheets,” she added.
Furthermore, the judge pointed out that a delay in medical tests also create obstacles in the delivering of a verdict as the evidence is belittled.
In Bangladesh, only 3% of cases relating to violence against women and children result in a conviction, as reported by Women and Children Repression Prevention tribunal from five districts.
“By ensuring coordination in the steps or among departments involved in the judiciary system, we will be able to obtain a better conviction rate,” opined Dr Ayesha Afroz Chowdhury, deputy program manager of Gender, NGO and Stakeholder Participation (GNSP) unit of the health and family welfare ministry.
“A rape victim does not know where to go and what to do. If we can create a system where a victim can visit the police station first, and the authorities complete the rest of the procedure - that would help in breaking the silence of victims,” she said.
According to her, social taboo and harassment in every stage are the major reasons why most rape victims do not want to disclose anything.
Families no longer safe for girls
The situation has become worse to the point where families are no longer safe for girls, said State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nessa Indira.
During the inauguration of “16 days of activism against gender-based violence” on Monday afternoon, the state minister said that family members are the offenders in 90% of cases involving sexual harassment of children.
“Families are not safe for a female child. Maternal, paternal uncles and close relatives are abusing the children,” she said.
The state minister called upon families, particularly male members, to become aware in order to keep their family safe from all forms of violence against women and children.
16 days of activism against gender-based violence to continue till Dec 10
16 days of activism against gender-based violence -- an international campaign that aims to inspire action, and end violence against women and girls around the world -- was inaugurated in Bangladesh on Monday, like other countries around the globe.
The government of Bangladesh, for the first time, is observing the campaign through various activities to prevent and protect women from different types of violence, and sexual abuse.
Different programs will be held across Bangladesh till December 10 as part of the campaign themed "Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” this year.
“Mass awareness needs to be created in every locality through different programs. The government, non-government organizations, civil society, and development partners should come together to stop violence against women,” she said while adding that “We do not want any women as a victim of violence”.
The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, the Human Rights Day.
It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention, and elimination of violence against women and girls.