Enacting laws only is not enough to prevent rape and violence against women. Rather educational institutions, family, society and state must fight in unison against the menace, speakers at a roundtable observed on Thursday.

They also stressed on ending the culture of impunity, making judiciary and administration women-friendly, and imparting the sense of equal rights to the students during early age to ensure safety of women in the country.

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Stakeholders came up with these views at a virtual roundtable on prevention of violence against women.

Civil rights body Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) organised the roundtable.

M Hafizuddin Ahmed, former advisor to a caretaker government, said we must take a zero tolerance policy to end the culture of impunity.

“We must raise our voice for justice. All pervasive incidents of rape wouldn’t stop otherwise,” he said.

Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association's (BELA) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan raised question why Bangladesh failed to ensure women's empowerment although the country has been led by women for the last 30 years
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Shujan secretary general Badiul Alam Majumder said rape has taken an epidemic turn alongside the coronavirus.

Government has changed the law making death penalty as capital punishment in rape incident. But the most important thing is ensuring justice. Procrastination in delivering justice, culture of impunity and political influence prevent a rape victim from getting justice, he said.

Badiul added that the new law would be meaningless if the trial process is time consuming and the victims do not get capital punishment.

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Shujan’s central committee member CR Abrar said rape and violence against women has reached at a stage where the perpetrators consider themselves above the law.

Local government expert Tofail Ahmed thinks drugs and criminalisation are the main reasons for increase in rape incidents.

Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association’s (BNWLA) president Salma Ali said family and society have a lot to do to stop sexual violence.

Family and society should work to create the mentality of seeing women equally, she added.

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Urging all to socially ostracize rapists, Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association's (BELA) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan raised question why Bangladesh failed to ensure women's empowerment although the country has been led by women for the last 30 years.

Dhaka University’s law department professor and Shujan’s executive member Shahnaz Huda presented the keynote paper.

DU teacher Robaet Ferdous, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum’s general secretary Sanjeeb Drong, DU teacher Tania Haque, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum’s secretary Nasima Akhter Joly, among others, spoke at the roundtable.