Bengladesh: Fourteen Year Old Girl Raped, Charged With Adultery, and Lashed to Death

A tragic example of Sharia perversity from Bengladesh provides  gruesome context to the previous blogs on the alleged rape victim in Libya (here, and here), and her ominous predicament.

Below are the salient, if repugnant details, reported by CNN.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70. Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later. Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena’s family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.

Never mind that this 14-year old girl was raped. Under Islamic Law or Sharia rape is well-nigh impossible to prove, and the female victim typically is accused of “fornication,” or “adultery” and lashed, if not stoned. Despite a “ban” by ostensibly overriding secular law, Sharia law and its attendant discriminatory abuses of women compounded by barbaric punishments of these victims, persists in Bengladesh.

Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her. Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan’s wife heard Hena’s muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor. The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan’s house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201. Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.

…activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems. The Supreme Court also outlawed fatwas a decade ago, but human rights monitors have documented more than 500 cases of women in those 10 years who were punished through a religious ruling. And few who have issued such rulings have been charged.

The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death…

Sisters in Islam, a women’s advocacy group in Malaysia has reported, that in neighboring Pakistan,:

[T]hree out of four women in prison under its Hudud laws, are rape victims. Because rape is equated with zina—adultery/fornication—under Hudud law, rape victims are required to produce four pious male witnesses. It is of course nearly impossible for the rape victims to produce the four male witnesses required to prove their allegation. Therefore their police report of rape was taken as a confession of illicit sex on their part and they were duly found guilty.

In the real world, rape is unlikely to occur in the open, such that four pious males can observe the act of penetration. If they actually did witness such an act, and have not sought to prevent it, then technically they are abettors to the crime. In reality, unless the rapist confesses to the crime, women can never prove rape at all if rape is placed under syariah jurisdiction.

Wednesday November 15, 2006 under  the Musharraf government a measure was passed removing the crime of rape from the jurisdiction of Islamic law and establishing that it be judged by modern forensic evidence. The legislation angered political parties representing more devoutly Islamic constituencies. They demanded that the new law be withdrawn, claiming otherwise Pakistan would be transformed into a “free-sex zone.”

During a marathon debate before the passage of the bill, he Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) legislators called the bill “un-Islamic” and reiterated their threat to resign. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, opposition leader and MMA general secretary, warned that the bill would “make Pakistan a free sex zone”. He said there were several women’s rights issues that the bill did not address. He also said the bill was meant to “appease” the United States.

An astute editorial assessment of the reform effort in Pakistan was published in The Washington Times the next day (11/16/2006):

The legislation passed Wednesday by Pakistan’s lower house of parliament modifying the country’s abominable rape laws is progress both for women’s rights and for the rule of secular law, and it should be heeded across the Muslim world…Dropped from the Hudood ordinance is the requirement that rape be tried in Islamic courts, allowing these trials instead to move to criminal courts, based on English common law, where they belong. Also removed is the requirement that a victim’s story be corroborated by four male witnesses — an insurmountable hurdle — in order to prove herself a victim of rape and innocent of adultery — a crime that the legislation would ensure is no longer punishable by death.

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