The rate has dropped from 0.5% in 2016
Despite the large number of cases filed against the repression of women and children, only a few of them result in a conviction.
Conviction rates have decreased in recent times, with the present rate at less than 1%.
According to a study conducted by the women's rights body Naripokkho, from 2011-18, 6,329 cases out of 20,228 filed under the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act in six districts – Dhaka, Jamalpur, Jhenidah, Sirajganj, Joypurhat and Noakhali – were disposed of. Only 19 of them ended in a conviction.
In 2016, the conviction rate was 0.5% as the accused in 3,588 cases out of 11,864 were acquitted. It then dropped to 0.3% in 2018, after the accused in 4,528 cases were relieved and 6,329 were acquitted.
Trials of 13,899 other cases are currently under way, the rights group said at an event held, on Thursday, at Naripakkho’s Dhanmondi office in Dhaka.
Naripokkho demanded that the flawed and age-old Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000, which was amended in 2013, be revised. They said timing should improve to ensure punishment for the culprits, as most of the accused slip through legal loopholes.
Activists said that while most women and children do not disclose information regarding sexual violence and harassment, fearing stigma and reprisals, those who seek justice face obstacles at every phase of the legal procedure.
Moreover, the accused in most cases are acquitted, or are relieved, due to poor investigation reports and the reluctance of prosecution lawyers.
In many cases, police and local influential people force the victims’ families to keep silent or accept compensation after so-called arbitration.
Naripokkho said that a fast and flawless legal process can curb incidents of sexual harassment and violence significantly.
Naripokkho monitored 60 of the 20,228 cases filed in the last eight years, and found that most of the time, the victims and their families would become discouraged from seeking legal action due to lengthy procedures.
Naripokkho's study also found that victims are harassed and verbally abused while filing cases at the police station, undergoing medical tests at the hospital, and facing the defense’s questions in court.