According to a study by Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers' Association (BNWLA), 18,221 woman and child abuse cases have been filed across the country this year.
Salma Ali, BNWLA president shared the findings on Monday during a news conference titled 'Women and child abuse in present context 2020: Analysis and what to do' at the National Press Club.
She said the nature of violence has changed over time. Bangladesh's women and children are the main victims of this new kind of violence. Violence against them has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"These days, women are not safe in buses; they're not safe at home; they're not safe anywhere. There is political influence behind this. Law enforcement needs to be step up for this to stop," she added.
BNWLA president put forward a list of 11 recommendations to prevent women and child abuse, including legal assistance for rape victims, in a way that puts their interests front and center, while providing them adequate protection.
She also recommended ensuring swift justice and witness protection, along with the use of advanced forensic technology in case investigations; deploying trained officers at all levels and keeping the investigation out of the hands of political and influential interests; establishing a separate court to ensure speedy trials of all abuse cases in high court; increasing the number of tribunals for human trafficking cases to ensure that trials are completed within the stipulated time; putting in place a proper monitoring system to ensure data protection of physically challenged women and children; ensuring equitable legal services for marginalized communities (transgenders and physically challenged), identifying government officials involved in human trafficking cases, including law enforcement officers, labor inspectors and immigration officials.
Salma also stressed on the importance of increasing officers' training, to ensure that they are better equipped in supporting victims, including victim referrals.
Moreover, speakers at the conference demanded constitution of effective committees in all kinds of workplaces to prevent sexual harassment, inclusion of all kinds of rape in the amended Women and Child Abuse Prevention Act 2000, amending the Witness Testimony Act 155 (4) and other related sections of the law that seek acceptability of the complainant's character in rape cases.
Zobayda Parvin, general secretary of BNWLA and executive member Zakia Anar Koli also spoke in the conference.