Women are still victims of negligence and torture. The biggest torture is sexual harassment and a comprehensive preventive law must be implemented
Bangladesh needs a separate law to safeguard women and children from sexual harassment as these incidents have surged, rights activists observed.
They came up with the observation at a discussion organized by National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF) and Bangladesh National Women Lawyers` Association (BNWLA) in Dhaka on Saturday.
NGCAF President Badiul Alam Majumder moderated the program while BNWLA Director Advocate Towhida Khandoker presented a draft law to prevent sexual harassment.
The judges of six districts, public prosecutors, judicial magistrates and lawyers expressed their views on the draft law and recommended some changes.
Badiul said: “Women are still victims of negligence and torture. The biggest torture is sexual harassment and a comprehensive preventive law must be implemented.”
In the draft law, there are six chapters and 24 sections which includes sexual harassment prevention. The offences will be considered in two sectors, one - sexual harassment at institutions, and the other, in public places.
Acts of harassment or persecution, indescent proposals, comments or statements, stalking, and similar behaviour will be considered minor sexual offences.
On the other hand, physical harassment or similar acts, particularly through abuse of institutional or professional power, blackmail using images or videos, and distribution and marketing of such images or videos will be treated as major offences.
In all cases filed under the law, the Code of Criminal Procedure will apply and the crimes will be judged by the 1st grade Judicial Magistrates’ Court.
The trial proceedings will be completed within 60 working days in case of eligible charges. In case of non-compromising charges, trial will be completed within 120 working days.
Speakers said sexual harassment is not just Bangladesh’s problem but it has become a global menace.
In keeping with laws of the other countries, it is essential to formulate a separate and comprehensive law to prevent sexual harassment in Bangladesh, they said.
In 2009, the High Court issued directives in this regard but effective measures were not taken to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and educational institutions.