Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights v. Government of Bangladesh

The petitioners, a group of 54 non-profit organizations, lodged a complaint against the Government of Bangladesh based on the actions of enforcement authorities who allegedly raided the homes of sex workers, ousting them unlawfully from their residences and placing in vagrant homes.

Decision | 14 March 2000
Supreme Court of Bangladesh, 53 D.L.R. 1

Facts

The petitioners are a group of 54 non-profit organizations whose mandate includes protection of the human rights of vulnerable groups, including sex workers. Petitioners allege that in July 1999, the police entered into the sex workers’ lawful residences during the night, forcibly evicting them and their children from their homes. They claim that the police also beat and abused them before placing them in a home for the ostensible purpose of rehabilitating them. They further state that the police authorities, with the knowledge of the Government of Bangladesh, continuously take measures to harass these women and their children. The petitioners claim that, by evicting the sex workers, the government violated their right to life and livelihood in violation of the Bangladeshi Constitution.

Decision and Reasoning

The Court held that the Bangladeshi Constitution establishes the right to equal protection under the law, noting that sex workers have the same rights as all citizens to including the inalienable right to life, liberty, body, reputation and property. The Court held that, by evicting the sex workers from their homes without due process, the police had deprived them of their livelihood and their right to life. The Court held that the forcible eviction was unconstitutional and illegal and ordered their immediate release from the vagrant home.