Monday, June 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The time to act is now

We need comprehensive reforms in our rape laws

Update : 05 Nov 2022, 01:52 AM

There are no two ways to put it: Bangladesh's rape laws have, for the longest time, been stuck in the medieval ages.

While one of the more egregious provision in our rape laws, the two finger test, was abolished only a few years it is only now that the administration finally saw fit to do something about the disgusting practice of questioning a rape victim's “character” during prosecution.

Even though this is clearly a victory for common sense and it is never too late to welcome progress no matter how long overdue, the fact that rape laws in our nation are still decades behind compared to most nations is nothing short of a scathing indictment of far we have to go to be considered “developed” in its truest sense.

Much of our overarching laws have been inherited from the British colonial era, and nowhere is this retrograde attitude more evident than in the case of rape, which is defined as being gender-specific ie committed by a male against a female. Additionally, the age of consent in Bangladesh is set at 14, allowing for child marriage to take place under “special provisions.” 

The passing of the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2022, as it is named, is absolutely a reason to celebrate, as the onus of rape and sexual assault are never on the victim. But the fact is that our rape laws have far too many problematic elements that need to be amended, which justify and facilitate abhorrent deeds such as child marriage and marital rape.

Is there any doubt why an inordinate majority of sexual violence cases go unreported then?

However late it may be, the amendment of the evidence bill is still historic; but piecemeal fixes every half a decade will no longer do: We need comprehensive reforms in our rape laws, and the time to act is now.


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