Bangladesh should take proper steps to support sexual assault survivors so that they are treated timely with dignity and have access to services which are important to battle sexual brutality against women, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement yesterday.
“Bangladeshi women have had enough of the government’s abject failure to address repeated rapes and sexual assaults,” HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said in the statement.
“The Bangladesh government needs to finally make good on its empty promises and heed activists’ calls to take meaningful action to combat sexual violence and to support survivors,” she said.
The human rights watchdog made the call amid ongoing countrywide protests after a video clip, showing a group of men attacking, stripping, and sexually assaulting a woman in Noakhali, went viral.
Though the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has sought to remove the video from the internet, it continues to circulate widely, the HRW added.
The statement also reminded that the High Court had ordered the law ministry in January to form a commission within 30 days to address the troubling rise in sexual violence in the country, with the aim of producing recommendations by June.
More than nine months after the order, the commission, however, has not produced any recommendations, it said.
In the meantime, the government has yet to pass its long-promised sexual harassment and witness protection laws. Survivors continue to face stigma and do not have adequate access to psychosocial services when they seek help. The attackers are rarely held to account and the conviction rate for rape in Bangladesh is below 1 percent, it added.
The Bangladesh government should create the High Court-ordered commission on sexual violence and publicly report its recommendations; provide comprehensive sexuality education in schools, including on the meaning of consent; and provide training to law enforcement and court officials on working with victims of gender-based violence, the statement said.
The government should ensure that adequate and accessible resources for psychosocial support are available and accessible and should heed activists’ calls to finally pass a sexual harassment bill, provide witness protection, and reform discriminatory legislation, the statement added.
“The Bangladesh government needs to listen to women,” Ganguly said. “The government should ensure that this woman, and all sexual assault survivors, are treated with dignity and have access to services and that their right to a fair, timely, independent investigation and adequate legal remedy is respected.”
Photo credit: Collected
News source: The Daily Star