Under the Women and Children Repression (Prevention) Act 2000, the court imposed fine on convicted rapists in 100 percent of the cases, but converted the fine into compensation and awarded it to the victims' families or survivors in only 6.8 percent of these cases (three out of 44 cases), revealed a latest study of BLAST.
The award of compensation sustained in only one case, as the Supreme Court acquitted the convicts in two out of these three cases where compensation was awarded by the tribunal.
The study titled 'No Justice without Reparation: Why Rape Survivors Must Have a Right to Compensation', was published as part of the Rape Law Reform Now campaign, supported by UN Women and funded by Global Affairs Canada.
The study was published in solidarity with the campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge for International Women's Day 2021, through which BLAST chooses to challenge the almost exclusive focus on punishment of the perpetrator when discussing justice for rape while overlooking the victim or survivors' right to reparation.
It analysed 99 Supreme Court judgements relating to 90 rape cases reported in six law reports of Bangladesh — Dhaka Law Report, Bangladesh Legal Decisions, Bangladesh Law Times, Mainstream Law Report, Bangladesh Law Chronicles and Appellate Division Cases, during the period of 1995 to 2019.
Of these 90 cases, 46 were rape cases filed under the Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon (Bishesh Bidhan) Ain 1995, while 44 were rape cases filed under Section 9 of the 2000 Act.
It also found the average amount of fine imposed by the tribunals under the 2000 Act is around Tk 28,000, compared to around Tk 4,700 under the 1995 Act –therefore marking an increase, but remaining inadequate for the purposes of compensation nevertheless.
The minimum amount of fine was set at Tk 100,000 for rape leading to murder and gang rape according to section 9(2) and 9(3) of the 2000 Act.
However, the court did not impose fine above this minimum limit in any of the 44 cases under the 2000 Act, indicating that Tk 100,000 is treated as a ceiling rather than a baseline in practice, it mentioned.
The report recommended amending Section 15 of the Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Ain 2000 so that compensation is a matter of right and not a matter of judicial discretion.
It also recommended enacting the Crime Victims Compensation Act drafted by the Law Commission in 2007, so that a Crime Victim Compensation Fund is established in every district.
It further recommended providing training on restorative justice through the Judicial Administration and Training Institute to Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal judges on principles of victimology.
UN Women Bangladesh country representative Shoko Ishikawa said, "Compensation is the bare minimum that ought to be provided as reparation to SGBV survivors. It is therefore critical to ensure that the legal framework for compensation for survivors of rape and other forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is strengthened in Bangladesh in line with the reform proposals set out in this report."
Sara Hossain, honorary executive director, BLAST said, "We hope this report encourages lawmakers, lawyers, academics and activists alike to refocus some much needed attention to ensuring that every rape survivor has effective access to remedies and reparation."
The author of the report Taqbir Huda, Research Specialist, BLAST said, "As we celebrate our graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category, it is essential that we reinvest some of the country's wealth in activating the Crime Victims Compensation Fund proposed by the Law Commission back in 2007, so victims of violent offences, such as rape survivors are able to get some compensation irrespective of the outcome of the criminal prosecution."