Despite increasing reports of rape in the media, conviction rates remain low and rapists continue to enjoy impunity. Meanwhile, most rape victims and survivors still do not come to court to seek redress, and even when they do, they are often forced to abandon the prosecution in the face of threats.

Even where cases are filed, investigations concluded, and trials take place, there are very few convictions. The vast majority of rape victims and survivors are thus precluded from seeking justice, including the discrimination inherent in the existing rape laws and their application.

It is in this context that BLAST launched the Rape Law Reform Now campaign in 2018, to identify protection gaps in existing rape legislation which continue to perpetuate impunity and miscarriages of justice, and act as a concerted advocacy movement to demand necessary legal and institutional reform.

2020 marked the 20th anniversary of the Nari-o-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain 2000 (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000), a law enacted with a view to eliminate violence against women and children in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh’s express commitment to uphold gender equality and reduce Gender Based Violence (GBV) has created an opening for civil society to demand much needed reform of our rape laws to ensure justice without delay or discrimination.


As part of this campaign, we hold a series of expert consultation seminars and meetings with relevant stakeholders, such as lawyers, academics, judges, law enforcement officers and activists. In 2018, we held expert consultations on the following thematic areas:

The expert consultations held in 2018 led to the first ever National Conference on Rape Law Reform which brought together key justice sector actors and human rights activists working on ensuring justice for rape.

The conference opened with a session where representatives from marginalised communities spoke about the experiences of rape survivors from their communities and the additional hurdles they face when seeking justice for rape. This was designed to tie in with UN Women’s #HearMeToo movement as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The Conference brought together lawyers, judges, academics, researchers, government officials, law enforcement officers, journalists, human rights and community activists from across the country to discuss the need to reform existing rape laws in to ensure holistic, effective and inclusive justice for rape survivors and end impunity for rape.

You can read a copy of the declarations here.

Research is central to the campaign, and we have launched the Rape Law Reform Research Reports series to generate evidence-based advocacy for reform. We are researching into the history of rape law reform in Bangladesh and analysing all the reported judgments on rape under the Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain (Women and Children Repression Prevention Act) 2000 with a view to further understand common trends in rape cases, such as:

  • the nature of relationships between the rape victim/survivor and the rape accused/convict
  • socioeconomic background of the rape victim/ survivor and rape accused/convict
  • timelines in rape prosecutions, including average time taken for the trial court judgment and for
    the Supreme Court to rule on appeals etc. and common reasons for delay
  • the pattern of appeals to the Supreme Court (against the trial court decision) and common
    reasons for acquittals/ convictions propounded by the Supreme Court
  • the extent to which “rape culture” exists in the courtrooms and influence the judges’ decision

Research reports and policy briefs 


In taking the Rape Law Reform Now campaign forward and making the declarations a reality, it was recognised in the consultations and the conference that a concerted effort between relevant stakeholders is of utmost importance. To this end we up a Coalition on Rape Law Reform comprising of different organisations working on ensuring justice for rape, such as Naripokkho, BRAC Human Rights and Legal Services, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association and others.

The Coalition on Rape Law Reform acts as a pressure group for building momentum on key reform demands of the campaign. Advocacy and awareness activities are conducted at both the policy and grassroots level is conducted using the vast collective networks of the organisations that are part of the Coalition.

Rape Law Reform Now:
10-Point Demand [English]

Rape Law Reform Now:
10-Point Demand [Bangla]

If you wish to learn more about our Rape Law Reform Now campaign, or wish to support it and/or get involved,
Please write to: