The deputy speaker asked Navana Aktar, MP to pilot the bill
A draft of a proposed law on preventing sexual harassment has been handed over to the deputy speaker of the National Parliament which will be placed at the October parliamentary session this year as a Private Member’s Bill.
The law was a joint initiative by Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and Girls Advocacy Alliance of Plan Bangladesh titled, “Sexual Harassment Prevention and Protection Bill- 2018.”
Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah on Thursday said: If a proposal is placed, he will try his best to table the law during this government's regime—if not as a government bill then as a private member’s bill.
The deputy speaker said this in a meeting organized by the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, and the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum at the IPD conference room at the National Parliament Building. The forum presented the draft's copy to the deputy speaker.
The deputy speaker said: “In order to protect girls and women from any form of sexual harassment in any place, we should have a law.”
After receiving the draft, the deputy speaker advised Member of Parliamentc(MP) Advocate Navana Aktar to place the bill at the last session of the parliament, on October 14.
The draft acknowledged all kinds of sexual harassment in public places as a crime and prescribed to punish offenders.
In the description of sexual harassment in public spaces, the draft said that the following will be considered a crime: any kind of physical approach and expression that is sexually suggestive; offers to have unethical relations using professional or institutional power; initiating sexually-offensive write-ups, cartoons, or groping in public places, harassment through digital media; and making or preserving digital content to assault or threaten anyone.
The draft also proposed to create a five members' complaint committee in every private and public institution, within 90 working days of the passing of the bill, to resolve these kinds of issues.
According to it, the victims can lodge complaints to the complaints committee of their institutions as well as with police stations or magistrate courts.
It asked the government to establish at least two sexual harassment prevention courts in all metropolitan cities—and one court in each divisional city.
Depending on the intensity of the offence, the draft proposed different ranges of punishment—from verbal warnings to imprisonment and fines.
The deputy speaker further said: ”The sexual harassment in public place is a large problem and if the country has a separate law regarding it, a safe public environment can be ensured for women and children."
President of the program, Parliamentarian Caucus Chief Mir Shawkat Ali Badshah said: “If the law is passed, our women and girls will benefit.”
Shujan Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder said: “Although [the situation of] women have progressed, they are still suffering from various forms of harassment. So it is necessary to formulate relevant legislation.”
The deputy speaker highlighted that he and MP Navana Aktar will cooperate in this regard.
At the beginning of the event, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum Secretary Nasima Akhter Jolly made a presentation about the proposed law.
Several human rights activists, along with 15 MPs, attended the event.