The much-talked-about ‘Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2020’ was introduced in Parliament on Sunday, stipulating the death penalty as the maximum punishment in rape cases.
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nesa introduced the Bill and it was sent to the respective Parliamentary Standing committee for further examination. The Committee was asked to submit its report within seven days.
In the proposed law, the punishment for rape is death penalty or life imprisonment. According to Article 9 (1) of the existing Women and Children Repression Prevention Act-2000, the punishment for rape is life imprisonment.
This was earlier promulgated through an ordinance on October 13 as Parliament was not in session, in the face of populist demands to ensure the death penalty for rapists.
As per the legal obligation the ordinance was placed in Parliament for its approval by Law Minister Anisul Huq.
The ordinance was issued following waves of anti-rape demonstrations across Bangladesh after a serious of heinous rapes, most notably the gang-rape of a housewife in Noakhali’s Begumganj upazila, which was videoed by the perpetrators and later the video turned up on the internet. Needless to say, it went viral. The incident occurred at Joykrishnapur village under Eklashpur union of the upazila on September 2.
Protesters had staged demonstrations over the growing incidents of rape, sexual harassment and violence against women in Bangladesh.
According to the Article 9 (3) of the existing law, if a woman falls victim to gage-rape and gets injured or dies, the punishment is the death penalty or life imprisonment for each rapist.
As per the bill, changes were also proposed to two other sub-articles –-11 (Ga) and 20 (7) –of the existing law.
Any simple injury for dowry will be a compoundable offence (the complainant can compromise to drop the charge against the accused) in accordance with the article 11 (Ga) of the proposed law.
As per the 11 (Ga) of the existing law, one shall be sentenced for maximum three years but minimum one year’s rigorous imprisonment and will be awarded pecuniary (monetary) penalty as the punishment for making the ‘simple hurt’ for dowry.
In the article 20 (7) of the bill, ‘the Children Act, 2013’ has been incorporated in place of ‘Children Act, 1974’ to follow the latest law as much as possible during the trial of any crime committed under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act-2000 in case any child commits or witnesses such crime.
The trial of rape cases shall be completed by 180 days at Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals according to the existing law.
According to Ain o Salish Kendra, a rights group, at least 208 cases of gang rape – a fifth of a total of nearly 1,000 cases – were reported in the first nine months of this year.