Government needs to establish a state compensation fund for rape survivors
Taqbir Huda speaks to DOT :
“This rule is quite significant because it is the first time the writ jurisdiction of the High Court has been invoked in Bangladesh to seek compensation for rape, as a gross a violation of fundamental rights “, said Taqbir Huda while speaking to DOT regarding the rule issued by the High Court asking the government to explain why it should not be directed to compensate Tk 50 lakh to the 22-year-old girl who “was raped by two police officers of Saturia Police Station” in February this year.. “Previously we have seen compensation claims being made under the constitution for other forms of fundamental rights violations such as illegal detentions and deaths arising from road and industrial accidents. We should learn to think of rape not only as a crime on part of the perpetrator, but also as a breach of the state’s duty to ensure basic protection to women and girls. Rape is a gendered crime, in that the vast majority of rape victims are female. As such it is a violation of a woman or girl’s right to life and dignity guaranteed by Article 32 of our Constitution and also right to freedom of movement guaranteed by Article 36, especially in cases where the girl has been forcefully confined to a space, such as this one. Where the perpetrator of the crime is a state actor himself, such as in this case, the degree of the State’s breach of duty becomes even more pronounced. Thus when the Manikganj rape incident came to light, CCB Foundation and BLAST filed the instant writ petition in an attempt to have the judiciary expressly recognise rape as a violation of fundamental rights, especially those in the public sphere and by public officials, for which the State has to have some degree of accountability, not only in terms of prevention but also redress”, Taqbir Huda added. He further stated that at BLAST, we launched the Rape Law Reform campaign in 2018, where one of our demands is to recognise a rape victim-survivor’s right to compensation and this is because exclusive focus on punishment and the perpetrator in our understanding of justice has meant that there is little to no focus on the rape survivor and how she moves forward with her life while the State’s duty to take active steps to prevent and redress rape is ignored. Thus, he thinks; this rule is certainly a milestone for our ongoing campaign. He recommended that going forward, the government must seriously consider the urgent need to establish a state compensation fund for rape survivors, which exists in other countries such as neighbouring India.
Taqbir Huda is the Research Specialist at Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST).
Interviewed by Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed, Executive Editor, Daily Our Time.