Bangladesh Plans to Boost Number of Courts Dealing with Cybercrimes

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Share on WhatsApp
Share on WhatsApp
160121-BD-women-620 Bangladeshi women and girls participate in a Dhaka rally marking the country’s 44th Victory Day, Dec. 16, 2015. The nation is planning to add six courts to handle the rising number of cybercrimes that mostly target females.

With just one court in the nation handling internet-related cases and reports of women and girls committing suicide after being victimized by online crimes, Bangladeshi authorities plan to establish six more so-called cyber courts by April 2016.

Girls and women in Bangladesh suffer heavily from cybercrimes with many being victimized by inadvertently having their nude photos or images posted online, officials and information technology experts say.

“We have decided to increase the number of cyber courts to try the increasing number of cybercrime cases. Hopefully, the proposed cyber courts will start functioning in the next three months,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews.

Cybercriminals who target women by posting sexually explicit videos online can be prosecuted under the country’s Pornographic Regulation Act of 2012 as well as the Information and Communication Technology Act of 2006, Kamal said.

The government, meanwhile, is trying to amend some provisions of the 2006 act as part of a Digital Security Bill of 2016 aimed at boosting cyber security, but human rights activists have raised concerns that this could impinge on free speech.

At present only one tribunal in Dhaka deliberates over such cases, but the caseload – especially cases in which women are victims – has increased exponentially along with an explosion of internet use in Bangladesh.

The number of internet users nationwide has grown to 54 million in 2016 from 1 million in 2008, government figures show.

Around 70 percent of cybercrimes target women, Tanvir Hasan Zoha, an expert who works with the government’s information and communication technology division, told BenarNews.

The additional cyber courts that the government is proposing likely will be set up in six cities apart from the capital Dhaka: Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal and Rangpur.

“In addition to increasing the number, the government must impart training to the law enforcers to frame charges on cybercrimes,” Zoha said.

Investigators lack expertise: Lawyer

But such crimes are hard to prove because investigators lack expertise needed to frame charges against cyber criminals who can out smart law enforcers, Prakash Chandra Biswas, an attorney who has taken on several cybercrimes cases, told BenarNews.

Because of this factor many women have been afraid to file charges.

“The institution of the new tribunals will encourage the sufferers from outside Dhaka to seek justice,” Biswas said.

Nonetheless the new courts represent a good start, he added, noting that more than 100 cases of cybercrimes are on the docket at the Dhaka court.

Women are the main victims of cybercrimes in Bangladesh, according to Abdullah Al Mamun, a researcher for the NGO Manusher Jonno Foundation, which conducts studies on pornography.

“At least six girls committed suicides in 2014 [after] the cyber criminals released pornographic videos on the internet, Mamun told BenarNews.

In many cases, the humiliation caused by explicit photos or images of daughters or sisters circulating on the internet has led some families to sell their homesteads and move elsewhere, Mamun said.

In some cases, the women may have consented to being filmed in intimate moments with their boyfriends or husbands, but a jilted lover might post explicit footage online after their relationship had soured, Mamun added.

And in other cases, a third party might film a couple clandestinely, extort money from the couple or publish the content online.

“In 90 percent cases, the boys release the objectionable videos and photos to punish the girls and women,” he said.


A 22-year-old woman from the Brahmanbaria district, who requested anonymity, welcomed the government’s decision to expand the nation’s cyber court system.

“I did not go to the college for six months because everyone laughed at me and my family members, and [made] bad comments. My whole family was ostracized after my boyfriend secretly recorded our intimate moments and uploaded it on the web,” she told BenarNews.

He did this after she discovered that he was cheating on her, the woman said.

“Is it possible for my family to go to Dhaka to seek justice? The number of courts should be increased. The cyber criminals must be tried for the targeted crimes against girls and women,” she said.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.