Victims in 19 of 6,329 cases of violence against women and children got justice in six districts of the country including Dhaka between January 2011 and June this year, women's rights organisation Naripokkho said in a report released yesterday.
Conviction rate in attempted rape, sexual harassment and trafficking cases was nil.
Only five rape cases out of 4,372 saw conviction of the accused in Jamalpur, Jhenidah, Noakhali, Sirajganj, Joypurhat and Dhaka during the time, the report said.
Of the remaining 1,278 rape cases disposed of in the districts within the timeframe, the accused were discharged in 989 cases and acquitted in 289 cases. So, the conviction rate is only 0.39 percent.
The NGO followed through 60 cases of rape, attempted rape, sexual harassment, abduction, trafficking and others under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 to find out different aspects of the trial procedure and the changes necessary to the court proceedings and law.
Of the 25 rape cases closely observed, accused in only one case was punished while in seven others, they were acquitted. Except for one case, the accused were known to or distant relatives of the victims, aged between three and 31.
The sole convict was 42-year-old caretaker of a building close to where three-year-old victim used to live in the capital's Mohammadpur. The girl identified the rapist in court. The judge proclaimed the verdict on the basis of the victim's testimony.
Of the 60 cases studied, 31 were related to torture over dowry. Among them, 16 cases were disposed of without any conviction. The complainants went for out-of-court settlements later on with the accused, mostly husbands of the victims.
Naripokkho also made some suggestions based on its findings, including an amendment to the evidence act to forbid the defence from questioning the moral character of women. Besides, a law should be enacted to ensure protection of witnesses and complainants -- as they were seen making compromises for fear of reprisals in many cases -- and guidelines should be formulated to provide compensations to victims, it said.