From now on, accused of a rape incident will be subjected to compulsory medical and DNA tests, along with victims, for collecting evidence to ensure justice.
The provisions have been introduced through an amendment to the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 as President Abdul Hamid yesterday signed an ordinance, bringing the changes and increasing the punishment from life-term imprisonment to death penalty for rapists.
As the amendment goes, a medical test and a DNA test will have to be done even if the accused or the victim does not give consent to it.
Previously, only the victim had to undergo a medical test and DNA examination, the results of which were placed in court as evidence.
"The inclusion of the provisions is positive in legal context," said barrister Abdul Halim, a Supreme Court lawyer. Forensic evidence are significant in the trial and conviction of rape cases but they are not accepted as direct evidence.
"Only when the doctor who signed the document appears in court to validate the test results, they are acknowledged as evidence," Halim said.
Noted gynaecologist Prof Rowshan Ara Begum said the chances of finding signs of aggression on both victims and accused are high if tests are conducted immediately after an incident.
A DNA test can easily identify the accused with his blood, skin and tissue on the victim and vice versa.
However, transparency has to be ensured and forensic departments have to be strengthened so that victims get justice, Halim said. Otherwise, rape victims will again fall prey to a broken legal system, he added.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday termed rapists "beasts" as President Abdul Hamid promulgated the ordinance.
"Rapists are like beasts as they exhibit their inhumane nature affecting our girls…We have amended the law and included capital punishment for rape. We have cleared the amendment [proposal] in the cabinet," the prime minister said while addressing a programme marking the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2020, reports UNB.
As parliament is not in session now, Sheikh Hasina said the government is promulgating an ordinance to make the amendment effective. "It is our aim to face any problem when it arises and resolve that," she said.
The prime minister's strong remarks came as protests against the growing incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women are continuing in different parts of the country.
The decision to amend the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act came amid growing protests against recent incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence towards women in the country.
According to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a local human rights organisation, between January and September 2020, at least 975 rape cases were reported in Bangladesh, including 208 gang-rapes.