Two women's rights organisations – Nari Nirapotta Jote and Amrai pari Paribarik Nirzaton Pratirodh Jote (We Can) – have called for trials of women and children abuse cases to be completed within 180 days.
Leaders of the organisations made nine demands in this regard in front of the National Press Club on Tuesday.
During a press conference, the two organisations announced they will hold a human chain progamme on Wednesday, across 40 districts, demanding an immediate end to rape and sexual violence against women and children. Additionally, they will write a memorandum to the prime minister regarding the issue.
Also, they have called for the withdrawal of the recent misogynistic remarks made by the Bogura 6 constituency MP Rezaul Karim Bablu in the national parliament assembly, where he commented on women's clothing and free movement.
In a written statement the organisations said, "The social environment of the country is not women-friendly. In such circumstances, the trials of women and child abuse cases must be completed within 180 days. The cases must be settled within a specified period on a priority basis through the High Court."
They also demanded security for women and children during the trial period, along with medical treatment and compensation.
Moreover, the organisations called for the process of witness testimony to be modernised, to formulate and implement effective measures to prevent sexual harassment as per the directive given by the High Court in 2009. They also demanded the successful implementation of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010.
Analysing news reports from 11 national daily newspapers, the two organisations said, around the country, on average, 108 women and children have been raped – per month – from January to September this year.
A total of 975 women were raped during this period, of which 208 were incidents of gang rape. Around 200 women have been victims of attempted rape, 161 people have been sexually harassed, 41 people have been killed after being raped, and 10 women have committed suicide.
Leaders of the rights organisations called upon the government to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy towards rape, sexual harassment as well as women and child abuse.
Manusher Jonno Foundation's Executive Director Shaheen Anam said the prime minister has said there is zero tolerance for sexual violence against women and children. "In that sense, we all have to take responsibility from our own place."
Zinat Ara Haque, executive coordinator of We Can said, incidents of abuse of women and children turn into just a number in the long judicial process. Neither the state, the media, nor organisations continuously follow-up on the events. As a result, abuse continues.