According to Section 20 of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals Act, the tribunals must finish the trials of cases filed under this law within 180 days of charge framing
Thousands of litigants and justice seekers across Sylhet are suffering as more than 3,500 cases remain pending with the only Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal in the district.
Pending cases are not only a great source of suffering for justice seekers, but are also a problem for courts since they can increase their workload and take up space and resources.
In a major divisional city like Sylhet, a single tribunal has not been sufficient to deal with the increasingly rising number of cases of violence against women and children, multiple court sources have said.
Advocate AKM Samiul Alam, former president of the Sylhet District Bar Association, said: “From the very beginning, cases related to violence against women and children in Sylhet city and district have been settled through a single tribunal.”
The senior lawyer stressed the importance of setting up more than one tribunal in Sylhet to alleviate the sufferings of people seeking justice in cases of violence against women and children.
Speaking to lawyers, this correspondent learned that violence against women in Sylhet had not stopped even in the midst of the pandemic. In 2020 alone, 650 cases were filed with the Sylhet Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal. Among the cases was the sensational gang-rape case at MC College.
Besides, 138 cases were filed in January this year and 64 till February 18 this year. All facts point to the rising cases of violence against women and children.
According to the One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) of Osmani Medical College Hospital, 487 women and children who were raped between January and November 2020 received treatment there. Of them, 319 were children (0 to 18 years) and 168 were women (19 years and above).
In addition, 519 women and children who were raped in 2019 also received medical treatment at the OCC. Among them 351 were children and 159 were women.
Raushan Ara Mukul, general secretary of the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad’s Sylhet branch, said: “Violence against women and children is on the rise. The only tribunal in Sylhet is delaying the disposal of cases. For this reason, many are not interested in court proceedings anymore.”
Advocate Ainul Islam Bablu, former general secretary of the Sunamganj District Bar Association, said: “Zakir Hossain, a judge at the district Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal, declared verdicts in a total of 65 cases on a single day, Monday. In 54 of these cases, wives came to an understanding with spouses and returned to their husbands' homes. The same judge had earlier pronounced similar verdicts in 47 other cases.”
The lawyer said the only existing tribunal was insufficient to deal with the large number of cases.
Currently, there are 95 Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals in the country. According to Section 20 of the act, the tribunals must finish the trials of cases filed under this law within 180 days of charge framing.