Status of Crime Victims in Bangladesh

AuthorMohammad Omar Faruk,Sanjeev P. Sahni,Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/25166069211057213
Published date01 October 2021
Date01 October 2021
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
Status of Crime
Victims in Bangladesh
Mohammad Omar Faruk1, Sanjeev P. Sahni2
and Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff2
Abstract
Though a few provisions for the victim of crimes were indirectly recognized
since the nineteenth century, from 2000 onwards, legal entitlements for crime
victims are realized in Bangladesh with a specific focus on women and children.
So far, few analyses are found to be performed mainly by the legal experts,
emphasizing legal rights and remedies with recommendations for legal reform.
However, studies on the status of victims’ rights seem to be incomplete without
considering administrative as well as social reality—dominated by colonial legacy
and traditional practices—beyond the written clauses in the law books. This
study is one of the pioneering attempts in Bangladesh to understand the status
of crime victims against the backdrop of recent legal changes and to examine the
argument whether the legal provisions itself are enough in providing victims with
intended benefits without simultaneous social and administrative changes. Within
the theoretical framework of balancing victim’s rights and informal social control
(victim blaming), this qualitative study (through content analysis) reviewed all
criminal laws and research findings related to victim’s rights within a socio-
legal approach in terms of victim’s access, participation, protection, services and
compensation. Along with the rights legally granted to victims, available research
findings were interpreted in connection to those particular rights. It is found
that there are unsupportive social milieu, administrative subculture and political
practices, where victims of crime are strongly restrained from enjoying their
rights. Particularly, the status of crime victims is found to be undermined in the
Original Article
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
4(2) 119–141, 2021
2021 Rajiv Gandhi National
University of Law
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/25166069211057213
journals.sagepub.com/home/vvj
1 Department of Criminolog y and Police Science, Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology
University, Santosh, Tangail, Bangladesh.
2 Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Centre for Psychology and Victimology, O. P. Jindal Global
University, Haryana, India.
Corresponding author:
Mohammad Omar Faruk, Department of Criminology and Police Science, Mawlana Bhashani Science
and Technology University, Santosh, Tangail 1902, Bangladesh.
E-mails: ru_faruk@yahoo.com; rufaruk1979@gmail.com
120 Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice 4(2)
face of corruption, low public confidence on enforcing agencies, gross withdrawal
or discharge of criminal cases on political grounds, limited geographical coverage
of victim support services and shelter homes, lengthy process for compensation
and unavailability of rules or guidelines to enforce the rights.
Keywords
Crime victims, criminal justice system, victims’ rights, Bangladesh
Introduction
The discourse around the victims of crime3 is new in Bangladesh, primarily influenced
by international instruments and advocacy of activists working to combat violence
against women and children. Though there is no single law to protect the rights for the
victims, different laws have provisions for victims, which could be altogether
considered as the legal framework of status for the victims of crime. The first law with
regard to some aspects of the rights for crime victims came into force in 2000, namely
the Suppression of Women and Children Repression Act, 2000. Criminal laws passed
in the following years have observed the inclusion of some aspects in favour of the
victims of crime, subject to the need and potential vulnerability of the victims, and to
maintain consistency with international obligation for protecting victims’ rights. As it
is imperative that the rights need to be legally protected to allow victims for getting
benefits, legal experts usually intend to sketch drawbacks and limitations of different
aspects of victim rights in Bangladesh from legal perspectives, revealing the current
legal status and recommendations for legal reforms. For instance, Ullah4 outlines the
available legal rights for victims of crime with a focus on the participation,
compensation and restitution and compares the provisions to the standard set by the
United Nations resolution. Similarly, Faruque and Rahaman5 review the existing
rights for the victims of human trafficking and rape and opine that the piecemeal
legislative approach is not adequate to provide care for the victims. Since historically,
one of the primary official establishments institutionalized by the British colonialists
has been the administration of criminal justice,6 legal analysis has been a dominant
approach to view issues related to offending as well as victimization. These legal
approaches are important to feed into advocacy for legal reform, but they are not
fully conducive to understand the real situation as to what extent victims can enjoy
their rights.
3 M. O’Connell, Victimology: A Social Science in Waiting, 15 Int. Rev. vIct. 91 (2008).
4 S. Ullah, PRotectIon of vIctImS of cRIme and vIctImS of abUSe of PoweR: the legal SyStem In
bangladeSh 130–135 (United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and
Treatment of Offenders 2006).
5 A. A. Faruque & S. Rahaman, Victim Protection in Bangladesh: A Critical Appraisal of Legal and
Institutional Framework, 13 (1 and 2) bangladeSh J. law 33–48 (2013).
6 K. e. hoqUe, admInIStRatIon of JUStIce In bangladeSh 36–41 (Asiatic Society of Bangladesh 2003);
a. halIm, the legal SyStem of bangladeSh 83–91 (CCB Foundation 2009); R. K. Panday & A. H.
Mollah, The Judicial System of Bangladesh: An Overview from Historical Viewpoint, 53(1) Int. J.
law manag 6 (2011).

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