Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death
Fuck everything about this.
Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death
Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN) — Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.
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.
Sharia: illegal but still practiced
Hena’s family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.
Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena’s cousin Mahbub Khan.
Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena’s age and the two were in seventh grade together.
Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena’s father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena’s age.
The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena’s family. But Mahbub was Darbesh’s older brother’s son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.
Many months later on a winter night, as Hena’s sister Alya told it, 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.
Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum had no choice but to mind the imam’s order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.
“What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn’t save her life,” said Sultana Kamal, who heads the rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.
Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. But 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.
Last month, the court asked the government to explain what it had done to stop extrajudicial penalty based on fatwa. It ordered the dissemination of information to all mosques and madrassas, or religious schools, that sharia is illegal in Bangladesh.
“The government needs to enact a specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam,” Kamal told CNN.
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 because of the country’s entrenched patriarchal system.
Hena might have quietly become another one of those statistics had it not been for the outcry and media attention that followed her death on January 31.
‘Not even old enough to be married’
Monday, the doctors responsible for Hena’s first autopsy faced prosecution for what a court called a “false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena’s death.”
Public outrage sparked by that autopsy report prompted the high court to order the exhumation of Hena’s body in February. A second autopsy performed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital revealed Hena had died of internal bleeding and her body bore the marks of severe injuries.
Police are now conducting an investigation and have arrested several people, including Mahbub Khan, in connection with Hena’s death.
“I’ve nothing to demand but justice,” said Darbesh Khan, leading a reporter to the place where his daughter was abducted the night she was raped.
He stood in silence and took a deep breath. She wasn’t even old enough to be married, he said, testament to Hena’s tenderness in a part of the world where many girls are married before adulthood. “She was so small.”
Hena’s mother, Aklima, stared vacantly as she spoke of her daughter’s last hours. She could barely get out her words. “She was innocent,” Aklima said, recalling Hena’s last words.
Police were guarding Hena’s family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.
They had meted out the most severe punishment for their youngest daughter. They could put nothing past them.
Mar 31, 2011 @ 06:50:48
Thank you for writing about this case. The CNN report has a picture of the girl’s father. You will never forget his face when you see it. The despair, and the pain.
The less we write or discuss it, the more Hena becomes just a statistic. The sharis is illegal in Bangladesh so they must have acted like lightning before the government authorities got wind of it. She came from the humblest of humble: the fact that there was a public outcry means it sent an electric shock through the people, and rightly so. In some far flung villages, law and order is hard to reach. However, someone acted right as she was taken to hospital, the doctors bungled the first autopsy and a second was asked for.
Poor little girl. I hope they will put up something in her memory in that village, or a school that bears her name. I hope this case goes on and all those guilty are punished. And in the end what of her parents? They will live with this until the day they die. I cried when I wrote this, this case moved and disturbed me so much.
Mar 31, 2011 @ 13:21:47
You speak of punishment as though it will absolve those responsible for inhumanity against humanity, everyone always seeks justice (or in other words, revenge), yet people are not alone in this world. Sure, those responsible for killing a little girl with lashing deserve whatever is coming to them, but is that really going to change anything, going to make up for what has been done? No. It will not change anything. There is no judicial system capable of making anything right when a person is killed. Far too many people seek revenge on those that harm them, only spurring on a cycle of hate, and even when one circle ends, another is born of that example.
Justice is a flawed, and useless method of trying to make up for human life lost. It has its place among the man made society, in matters of currency for example, or vandalism, etc. I cannot say that I would ever support justice dished out in cases of lost lives, as no matter who is involved, no matter how alone and terrible a person, the example of them receiving justice or feeling the wrath of revenge can always be taken as one of that being a good idea to use even in a situation where revenge will only end with more deaths.
Only the strongest of people can accept that someone they care about, someone innocent, or someone undeserving of death has died and not attempt to act on that fact. Closure, peace of mind, and any other useless rationalizations are just a shroud. So, hidden behind that shroud, a person does whatever they can to avoid facing their reality, tries anything to change that reality and make it less miserable, make it bearable, livable.
Out of Fear is born the beliefs that got that girl lashings, the belief that revenge can bring peace, the belief that justice is righteous. It is not the people exacting these acts of inhumanity, but the Fear within their minds, their hearts, and their society driving them into these inhumane acts.
Apr 03, 2011 @ 09:46:40
Diablo, i have to disagree with your skewed view.
Justice is not purely used as a device to attempt to right past wrongs. There are many other reasons for the use of justice in civilised societies, and many other reasons why it DOES work. i also believe there IS a difference between justice and revenge. according to the dictionary revenge means “to inflict damage, injury, or punishment in return for (an injury, insult, etc.); retaliate for”, whereas justice means “impartiality; fairness; the use of authority and power to uphold what is right, just, or lawful”.
Revenge is dealt by a person based on their biased personal feelings with no regard for anything but their own personal satisfaction, no matter the context or consequences of their actions.
Justice is handed down based on several aspects such as the immediate harmful effects of their actions on others, how and if they have broken any laws, how dangerous a threat they are to society in general, how likely they are to repeat the offence etc. their is particular emphasis in the judicial system (uncorrupt systems) on impartiality and being objective. perhaps this is why cases are handled by people not directly involved in or affected by whatever has happened, THEY’RE UNBIASED.
I can agree slightly on your saying “There is no judicial system capable of making anything right when a person is killed”, but when you think about it NOTHING will make it right again. Justice is dealing with the realities of the situation, like ‘we have a murderer on the streets and he is likely to repeat the offence, what can we do to keep everyone else safe, stop the ripple effect of his actions and deter others from doing the same?’
it is not simply about making up for something but also looking to the future.
In cases such as murder, where the loss of life WAS the purpose of the person inflicting the harm, i think it IS fair to point the finger and place responsibility on the guilty party. Knowing that that person/s cannot hurt anyone else and they are taking responsibility is SO important for victims’ family/friends in terms of healing and accepting the situation.
But where the death or loss is a by-product of someones actions, i can totally agree when you say “Only the strongest of people can accept that someone they care about, someone innocent, or someone undeserving of death has died and not attempt to act on that fact”.
By the authorities bringing Mahbub Khan to justice (not revenge) they would not only be trying to make up for her loss but are in fact saying this is now the prevailing law, not Sharia, anyone who wishes to practice these outdated and barbaric writings will no longer get away with it. they are paving the way for the future.
as for the rest, am i right in saying you yourself have been involved in such a case and have a bitter aftertaste?
Apr 03, 2011 @ 19:05:53
Mahli, you SO crazy with you CAPITAL letters ALL THE time
Apr 13, 2011 @ 13:09:50
so is the mother safe now?
wouln’t she be targeted for speaking out like that?