A total of 600 cases were filed over 991 incidents of torture on domestic workers from January 2010 to October this year, but not even one of those trials has concluded as yet.
News of torture or murder of domestic workers creates great sensation in the media, but this frenzy inevitably wears off. It is evident that these victims are yet to receive justice.
According to the human rights organisation Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, 324 domestic workers were killed, 99 were forced to commit suicide and 564 others became victims of torture between January 2010 and October this year.
Addressing the issue, Ayesha Khanom, president of the Mahila Parishad said, "Trial in any of the cases filed over the murder or torture of domestic workers have not been completed. The employers of these workers are very powerful, so they influence the trial process.
"Most of the time, family of these victims settle the cases in exchange of some money or out of fear."
Ayesha Khanom added that investigations of less than half of these cases have been completed, but the trial of even one those cases are not finished.
One such case was filed after the alleged rape and murder of domestic worker Jonia, 15, in Kafrul area of Dhaka in March, 2016. The local people at that time held protest rallies over the incident.
A case of unnatural death was filed over Jonia's death, but following a court order it was turned into a murder case. The autopsy report too termed Jonia's death as murder.
Jonia worked at the house of a joint secretary. The victim's mother Fulbanu told The Business Standard that the police took a long time to submit a report to the court over the case.
In that report investigators said the accused were innocent.
Describing her experience, Fulbanu said, "After police submitted the report at the beginning of 2018, we made a no confidence plea against it. So far there was no hearing over the no confidence plea, as the dates for the hearing were postponed three times.
"We are poor people. We cannot travel to the court anymore. The accused in the case are influential people, who are intimidating us many ways."
The frustrated mother of Jonia is now doubtful whether her daughter will ever get justice.
Nina Goswami, deputy director of legal aid and human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra said, "Usually, trial is conducted in such cases, but the verdict does not go in favour of the victims.
"We see that whenever a domestic worker is murdered, a vested quarter tries to label it a suicide. In some cases, they influence the autopsy report to term the death a case of suicide. Besides, in the court the accused exercise power to get a verdict in their favour."
Nina Goswami also said, "After a case is filed, the victims give depositions against the householder, but the accused are not charged accordingly in the charge-sheet. Even when they are accused, they are not brought to trial. So torture on the domestic workers continues."
Jasmin Akter, another such unfortunate domestic worker who worked in Dhaka, was tortured inhumanely by her employer for breaking a glass. Later Jasmin died at a hospital in Barishal while undergoing treatment.
Jasmin's father Iskander Ali lodged a case in Barishal over his daughter's death. Israt Jahan Nasrin, and Najma Akter - accused in the case - are leaders of the ruling Awami League, said sources.
Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association assisted in filing the case.
Commenting on the matter, the organisation's President Fawzia Karim said, "Charge-sheet of the case was submitted long ago, but the trial has not started yet.
"The accused appealed to the Home Ministry in 2016 to withdraw the case on political consideration, but their attempt were not successful due to the initiatives taken by some humanitarian organisations including the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association."
Nur Khan Liton, former executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, said, "Police take a long time to investigate these cases. Sometimes the investigation continues even after ten years of filing the case. It is an open secret that influential people accused in such cases affect the investigation process.
"Often the hearing process in such cases cannot be started because of the huge amount of backlog at the court. The Home Ministry and the Law Ministry should set up separate cells to oversee the trials of these cases."
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq said, "Initiatives will be taken to prioritise the completion of the trials in the cases filed over torture and murder of domestic workers. There is a huge pressure of cases in the courts. So, many important cases cannot be moved towards trial.
"The Law Ministry is currently working with the help of the United Nations and the GIZ, a German development agency. After a few more days, steps to resolve these cases can be taken with the help of these two organisations."