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Bangladesh justice system fails women : HRW

Eastern Times, Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 3 November : Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said although the government of Bangladesh has made some significant strides in preventing gender-based violence, its response still remains deeply inadequate to prevent violence against women in the country.

The New York-based rights group also said that the justice system in Bangladesh is failing women as there are police corruption and negligence, failures in investigation, bias, failures in prosecution, lack of witness protection, delays in justice and case backlogs, lack of access to case information, and failures to accommodate people with disabilities.

On Thursday, HRW published a report titled “‘I Sleep in My Own Deathbed’ – Violence against Women and Girls in Bangladesh: Barriers to Legal Recourse and Support,” to document the obstacles to realizing the government’s goal of a society without violence against women and children.

“The uptick in violence against women and girls during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as recent protests against sexual violence, are a bellwether to the Bangladesh government that urgent structural reform is needed,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government should take concrete action by creating accessible shelters across the country, ensuring access to legal aid, and removing obstacles to reporting violence and obtaining justice,” she said.

The human rights watchdog sent letters on September 17 to the Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Law and Justice, and on September 21 to the National Acid Control Council at the Ministry of Home Affairs, sharing initial findings and requesting input for inclusion in this report.

They requested a reply by October 14 in order to include the response in the publication of the report, but they received no reply from the government as of the time of publication.

“The Bangladesh justice system is failing women and girls with devastating consequences,” Ganguly said.

“Protesters are on the streets calling for change. The government should seize this pivotal moment to implement real reform that could save lives and promote the equal society it envisions.”

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