Despite being victims of sexual violence, most women do not want to take legal support as they have to face different types of harassment in the process, according to a study.
Misbehaviour and non-cooperation of the legal service providers and law enforcement agencies, delay in legal procedure, and weakness of existing laws are among the major barriers, it said.
ActionAid, an NGO, conducted the study in between January and December in 2016 by analysing the existing laws, doing case studies of different violence incidents and interviewing concerned people.
The findings of the study titled “Laws on Sexual Harassment in Public Places” were revealed yesterday at a seminar in the capital.
The study said the government has no specific law to take legal action for sexual violence against women, although this issue has been included in some acts, like Prevention of Oppression against Women and Children Act 2000, and Penal Code of Bangladesh 1860.
Most of the acts are not strong enough to punish the culprits, so the government has to work on it, said the study.
It also recommended defining sexual violence as a crime in the laws, ensuring transparency and accountability of law-enforcing agencies, enforcing the existing laws properly, and preparing the government hospitals to provide the rape victims with proper treatment.
At the event, ActionAid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir said the government has to strengthen the laws through reformation. At the same time, people should change their mindset towards women in a bid to resist violence against them, she added.
Taslima Yasmin, assistant professor of law at Dhaka University, said the correction of the relevant laws and their enforcement should get priority at the policy-making level.
Farzana Majid, a gender specialist at icddr,b; Rani Yan Yan, Chakma circle queen; and Nasimun Ara Huq, president of Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra; also spoke.