Dhaka, Oct 12 (efe-epa).-The Bangladesh government on Monday approved an amendment to a draft law incorporating the provision of the death sentence for rape amid countrywide protests against sexual assaults on women.
Law minister Anisul Haque told EFE that the proposal would come into effect after the government formulated an ordinance on Tuesday.
“The cabinet has approved the proposal for amending the cruelty to women and children act by enhancing the punishment of rape to death penalty or imprisonment for life in place of earlier sentence of imprisonment for life,” Huq said.
“Tomorrow, we will issue an ordinance to make it effective,” Huq added.
The existing law prescribes imprisonment for life term for rapists and death sentence or life-term sentence for rapists in case of death of the victim for the rape or murder following rape.
The move came at a time when the country continued to witness protests over the growing number of incidents of sexual harassment and rape.
The protest began last week after a video of a woman getting sexually assaulted and tortured by a group of men in the Begumganj area of southern Noakhali district went viral on social media.
The video, which was taken down from social media after a court order, showed the men, aged between 20 and 30, stripping the woman in her mid-30s, molesting her, and beating and dragging her as she kept begging for mercy.
One of the molesters captured the video of the incident that occurred on the night of Sep 2. He uploaded it on social media in a little over a month after the incident.
Alamgir Hossain, the police superintend of Noakhali, told EFE that they have arrested 10 people until Oct 9 in connection with the incident, and four of them confessed to their involvement in the court.
The protest continued in a low-key manner in Dhaka, defying inclement weather as many protesters were still unhappy with the incorporation of the death sentence in law.
“We did not demand death sentence. We wanted the government to amend the laws in a way that would ensure justice for all victims,” Arif Noor, a protester and presidium member of cultural group Udichi, told EFE.
Noor said despite the incorporation of the provision of death sentence in the amended law they would continue their protest, which included a gathering of women on Tuesday and a cycle rally Wednesday.
According to rights group Ain O Salish Kendra, 975 women were raped in Bangladesh between January and September this year.
Among the victims, 208 were gang-raped, and 43 of them were killed after rape while 12 other victims committed suicide.
Quoting government data, international rights group Amnesty International said, in a statement on Tuesday, that only 3.56 percent of cases filed between 2001 and July 2020 under the Prevention of Oppression Against Women and Children Act 2000 Act had resulted in court judgments.
Only 0.37 percent of cases have ended with convictions, it said.
Local women rights organization Naripokkho examined the incidents of reported rape cases in six districts between 2011 and 2018 and found that out of 4,372 cases, only five people were convicted. EFE-EPA