DHAKA, Feb 20, 2018 (BSS) - The Law commission is working on framing a uniform civil family code comprising all existing family laws to check discrimination against children and women.
A uniform civil code will mean a set of common personal laws for all citizens. Personal law covers property, marriage and divorce, inheritance and succession.
Nearly 50 laws in Bangladesh related to personal or family matters are more than half century old. These old-aged laws are alleged to patronize domestic gender discrimination practice in the society.
Legal aid experts said most of laws were framed during the colonial era or the then Pakistan regime, which became ineffective to ensure rule of law and justice.
The Law Commission Chairman and former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque said they were thinking to frame a uniform law by comprising all the existing family laws.
He hoped that it would be possible to make a draft coordinated family law within next two years.
The same observation came from a research conducted under the biannual (2016-17) work plan of law commission.
The commission report mentioned that, so far, no law exists in Bangladesh to secure right of Hindu women regarding divorce or remarriage and family assets.
Besides, the report recommended bringing amendment to the existing Family Court Ordinance, 1985 for making it a time-befitting one. It framed to resolve issues related to family properties after long demand of the civil society.
Justice Haque said there are some 36 laws related to women. But in most of the cases, the women had to face difficulties due to many old aged laws when they were seeking legal aid, he added.
"Bangladesh is a secular country. We do consider people of all religions. Every person follows family law as per his or her religion. Yes, it is true Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country and for that we have give more attention to the Muslim Family Law," he said.
However, the former chief justice said they were also concerned about other religious family acts. "We do give importance to all religious family law including Muslim Law, 1937 and Hindu Family Law dated back 19th century," he added.
He said as there are many laws, in many cases the judges, lawyers and legal aid seekers face difficulties to find out the appropriate law to get justice.
Member of the commission Justice ATM Fazle Karim said it was important to frame a coordinated law comprising family laws of every religions.
"There are a number of family laws for Muslims, some for Hindus but no family law for Buddhists. We have to step up in this regard but keeping in mind that it's a sensitive matter. We would like to reach the goal of ensuring access to justice for all," he said.
Secretary of the President's Office Sampad Barua said there is no family law for Buddhists. Many members of the Buddhist community are deprived of getting their rights due to lack of law.
Mentioning that a draft of Buddhists Family Law is almost ready, he hoped that the draft law would be published soon.
It is alleged that Bangladesh's family laws for Muslims, Hindus and Christians, some dating to the 19th century, grant men far greater powers than women in marriage and accessing divorce.
Action Aid Bangladesh country director Farah Kabir said women are the victims of domestic violence due to poor implementation of the existing family laws. "It is important to implement the laws properly to check torture against women and children," she said.
Taslima Yesmin, faculty of Dhaka University Law Department said gender parity is required in personal law. She suggested to resolve the 'Will issue' before death.