On May 14, 2009 the High Court of Bangladesh banned sexual harassment for the first time. The Court's decision defined sexual harassment to include both physical and verbal abuses and established guidelines to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and in educational institutions. The guidelines in the ruling will serve as law until parliament implements permanent laws on sexual harassment.
According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, the ruling is “a milestone in the history of judiciary for protecting women from sexual harassment” because it clearly defines forms of sexual harassment and requires companies and educational institutions to address the issue through the creation of woman-led complaint committees. The guidelines set forth in the ruling also aim to protect the identity of complainants and educate the public at large on sexual harassment and the punishments faced by perpetrators.
In the first case to apply the High Court's ruling, four female students at Jahangirnagar University successfully used the guidelines to reverse the University's decision to expel the students after they complained of sexual harassment by a teacher. The High Court instructed the University to open a fresh investigation of the students' allegations.
Compiled from: “Bangladesh – Landmark Court Judgment & Guidelines on Sexual Harassment,” Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (14 May 2009); "Bangladesh: University Students' Victory in Sexual Harassment Case," Women Living Under Muslim Laws (2 June 2009).