Chargesheets have been filed in 22 cases out of 25, but no progress made in the trial of the chargesheeted cases
Not a single trial of the 25 rape cases that occurred between 2012 and 2017 in the country has completed so far, according to a survey of the rights organisation Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).
It said the legal proceedings of other women and child rape cases reveal a very gloomy picture.
In recent years, the number of heinous crimes such as rape, especially child rape and post-rape murder, has been on the rise in the country, the MJF data shows.
The issues came up at a virtual press conference titled "Rape cases: The law and present reality" organised by the organisation on Thursday.
MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam conducted the event.
Of the 25 rapes reported by the MJF, three were women with physical impairments, nine were children between ages 5 and 15, 16 were teenagers and women between 18 and 35.
The accused in these cases were released on bail within 24 hours to 15 days after their arrest, the MJF study found.
Charge sheets have been filed in 22 of these cases, but no progress has been made in the trial of the chargesheeted cases.
The remaining two cases have no proceedings while three are yet to have any charge sheets.
In addition, two children born to two physically challenged women have yet to get their biological fathers' identity although the government promised to take care of them.
In its report, the MJF found that the five accused were released on bail and were trying to influence the case in various ways. Four of the criminals are pressuring the victims and their family to withdraw the cases in various ways including intimidation.
According to the MJF report, the four are also threatening the witnesses not to testify in the case.
By managing local people's representatives, political leaders and influential persons, 6 other accused are pressuring the victims and their family to reach a compromise while two other accused are trying to stop the social workers, who have come forward to help the victims, by threatening them.
The information has been collected from 10 districts – Dhaka, Gazipur, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Dinajpur, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Sherpur, Jamalpur and Joypurhat.
Senior lawyer Elina Khan presented the legal side of the cases.
MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said the number of rapes in the country is increasing day by day due to lack of speedy trial and due to the loopholes of law which the criminals get through.
He said it is not enough only to ensure death penalty for rape by amending the Women and Child Abuse Prevention Act. Punishment must also be ensured through the speedy trial.
The rights activists maintained that about two lakh more cases filed under the act have the same status as that of the 25 cases surveyed.
This heinous crime cannot be curbed unless the perpetrators are brought to justice as soon as possible, he said.
The MJF recommends, according to the Women and Child Abuse Prevention Act, ensuring the trial of the cases within 6 months, completing investigation within 90 days and submitting chargesheets, taking initiative by the public prosecutors to present witnesses, amending the evidence act for speedy trial and completing the trial of the cases at a stretch once started.
It also called for implementation of the High Court directives for speedy trial.Human rights activists Elina Khan and Rina Khan and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust lawyer Farida Yasmin took part in the press conference.
The MJF informed the press that according to the Ain o Salish Kendra statistics, there were 1,627 incidents of rape in the country last year, out of which 53 victims were killed after rape and 14 were forced to commit suicide.
It also said some 1,413 people were raped in 2019 and 732 in 2018.