A Critical Appraisal of Laws Relating to Sexual Offences in Bangladesh
Having noticed the high incidences of sexual violence in recent times, the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh (NHRC-BD) in 2015 published a Study Report titled, 'A Critical Appraisal of Laws Relating to Sexual Offences in Bangladesh' (hereinafter 'the Study') jointly authored by Dr. Lyal S. Sunga, Special Advisor on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and Mr. Kawser Ahmed, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The Study mainly focuses on three fields of law, namely, the penal laws, the laws relating to medical examination and the law of evidence – all of which together form the mainstay of administration of criminal justice system relating to trial and punishment of sexual offences.
The Study attests a significant observation that sexual offences, according to the applicable penal laws in Bangladesh, mainly refers to rape which is understood as non-consensual penile cohabitation between male and female. As a result, the definitions of sexual offences in the penal laws are not only obsolete, but also too narrow in scope to address many other forms of sexual violence. The authors mark that this rigid approach has continued to be a dominant feature even in the recent laws of the country.