Said before, I’ll say it again, fuck Islam.
Bangladesh’s High Court has ordered authorities in an eastern district to protect and produce in court a 16-year-old girl who was lashed 101 times earlier this month after becoming pregnant as the result of a rape.
The girl, who has not been named, received the punishment on the orders of village elders in the Brahmanbaria district who issued a “fatwa,” or Islamic ruling, declaring that she be flogged for immoral behavior. The elders pardoned the 20 year-old rapist.
The incident occurred five months after the country’s highest court issued a ruling ordering authorities to investigate incidents of extra-judicial punishments and take action against those responsible.
The August ruling came after a rash of earlier floggings of women, including one who spoke to a man from a different community, another who filed a rape complaint, and a third who refused sexual advances made by a relative. In each case locally-issued fatwas ordered punishment of 101 lashes.
In the latest case, Bangladesh’s Daily Star reported that the assailant, who used to taunt the 16-year-old on her way to school, raped her last April. She kept it quiet and her family subsequently married her off to a man in a neighboring village.
But when medical tests shortly after the marriage showed her to be months into her pregnancy, he divorced her. After an abortion she returned to her family home, but village elders then declared the family should be isolated until she was punished.
On January 17, on the basis of the fatwa, she was flogged in the yard of her home. The report said she collapsed and fainted during the assault. The paper named eight men involved, including two mosque imams and the village head elder, Delwar Hossain.
The girl’s father was also fined 1,000 taka (about $15) and another fatwa was issued saying the family would be ostracized if he failed to pay it. The father said the elders’ group was keeping a close watch on the family to ensure they would not take legal action.
After human rights activists visited and the incident was reported this week, a lawyer filed a petition at the High Court in Dhaka, the capital.
The court has directed Brahmanbaria authorities and police to protect the girl and produce her in court on February 7. It also ordered the government to explain why it should not take legal action against those involved in the flogging.
Earlier, the head of police in the district told the Daily Star that police would investigate if the victim filed a complaint.
In an editorial, the newspaper said the police response was incomprehensible, given last August’s court order.
“The incident is shocking not only for the gruesome brutality meted out to the 16 year-old girl, but also because of the attitude of the law enforcing agency who did not act promptly enough to prevent the whipping or take cognizance of the incident later,” it said.
The paper called on the government to “take steps to stop the parallel system of justice that misuse the name of religion.”