Bangladesh to prohibit questioning character of rape survivors during trial
'A rape survivor cannot be asked any questions that involve her character or may disgrace her,” Khandker Anwarul Islam, Cabinet Secretary, was quoted as saying
In a significant decision with social ramifications, the Bangladesh Cabinet approved a draft amendment in the Evidence Act 1872 prohibiting the practice of questioning the character of rape survivors during the trial of rape cases. The previous law permitted questioning the characters of rape survivors.
The cabinet on Monday in a meeting chaired by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the draft amendment in the Evidence Act. It came almost five months after a controversial judgment in November last year acquitted five rape accused, creating an uproar in the country.
“A rape survivor cannot be asked any questions that involve her character or may disgrace her,” Khandker Anwarul Islam, Cabinet Secretary, was quoted as saying by The Dhaka Tribune. “The matter is up to the jurisdiction now. Whoever is questioning a rape survivor has to maintain decency,” he added.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said, “The previous law, Evidence Act, 1872, allowed questioning a survivor’s character, but now we have withdrawn it.” From now on, courts can order defendants and their lawyers to maintain decency while a rape survivor is on the stand, he added.
Last year in November the country saw protests from women rights activists and others after Judge Begum Mosammat Kamrun Nahar acquitted all five accused in the Banani double rape case in capital Dhaka.
Moreover, the judge went on to order police to refrain from entertaining complaints if a rape survivor approaches them more than 72 hours after the incident. The controversial order created a huge uproar in the country, forcing authorities to bar the judge from presiding over any rape case in the future.
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