On 8th December 2018, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) held a National Conference on Rape Law Reform at CIRDP International Conference Centre, Dhaka. This full day conference brought together lawyers, judges, academics, researchers, government officials, law enforcement officers, journalists, human rights and community activists from across the country to discuss the need to reform existing rape laws in Bangladesh to discuss how best to ensure holistic, effective and inclusive justice for rape survivors and end impunity for rape. In preparing for this conference, BLAST held a series of expert consultation seminars with relevant governmental and non-governmental stakeholders between July and November 2018, focusing on distinct procedural and substantive areas of rape law which require immediate reform, with a view to develop workable recommendations on how such reform may be implemented.
The closing session was chaired by Ayesha Khanam (President, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad) and formally brought the conference to a close with the pronouncement of the eighteen point declarations on rape law reform and mapping out future obligations and multi-sectoral coordination. This was followed by speeches by Heike Alefsen (Regional Senior Human Rights Advisor, UNDGA), Mahtabul Hakim (Program Analyst, UN Women), Nobonita Chowdhury (Editor, DBC News), Qurratul Ain Tahmina Miti (Adviser News, Prothom Alo), Professor Fiona De Londras (Deparment of Law, University of Birmingham), Dr. Abul Hossain (Project Director, Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women, Ministry of Women and Children (MoWCA)), Zafrul Hasan, Director (National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO)) and Advocate Z I Khan Panna (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh & Member, Bangladesh Bar Council). The conference ended with all speakers and participants collectively demanding justice for rape without delay or description.
The report is written by Humaira Hannan, Intern, BLAST