Character Evidence in Rape Trials: A Comparative Study of Rape Shield Laws and the Admissibility of Character Evidence in Rape Cases

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:10 PM
Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust
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Rape is a horrific crime committed everyday across the globe, but the Indian subcontinent continues to dominate headlines. Significant cultural and legal obstacles stand in the way of real progress. They range from cultural misogynistic attitudes to weak legislative frameworks in regards to prosecution of the perpetrators of sexual violence.

It is clear that the justice system must be dramatically strengthened to ensure that victims have the best chance of accessing justice. That’s why the Thomson Reuters Foundation has facilitated legal support for the Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST) to advocate for rape law reform in Bangladesh.

TrustLaw has partnered with BLAST, Norton Rose Fulbright (South Africa), Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, J. Sagar Associates, Mughal Barristers, and White & Case to produce Character Evidence in Rape Trials: A Comparative Study of Rape Shield Laws and the Admissibility of Character Evidence in Rape Cases.

The report examines the admissibility of character evidence in rape cases across seven countries- England and Wales, Canada, India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. The report also analyses any rape shield laws in place in these countries.

This research will support BLAST to advocate for the removal of a Bangladeshi legislative provision which permits the use of character evidence in rape trials. It will also support BLAST to create a cohesive and united movement for reform in Bangladesh.

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