[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
In some barbaric interpretations of Islam, a woman cannot prove she is raped without four witnesses to back her up (which, in cases of rape, are typically hard to come by), so it is common for such a woman to assert she was raped and then be punished for adultery when she can’t sufficiently prove the rape. But this case is more outrageous than most:
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.
Read the whole thing, although it will raise your blood pressure as you do. For instance, the attacker was her cousin, more than three times her age. She alleged forcible rape. And even if she was making that part up, we are talking about a girl so young that her consent was meaningless. In other words, contrary to what Roman Polanski and his defenders say, even if she said yes, it was still rape. As Patrick wrote in a different context: “she was just a little girl.” And heartbreakingly, her parents were forced to watch as their daughter was murdered.
If there is any silver lining, here, it is that this was unlawful under Bangladeshi law and it seems that authorities might be reacting appropriately:
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….
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 [the victim’s father], 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.
Decades ago Martin Luther King stood by the graves of three little girls murdered by the forces of evil and told us that “God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive.” And like him, we can hope that the blood of this innocent girl will prove a redemptive force in that nation.
And we might remember this the next time someone pretends that Sharia is just another legal system, no better or worse than any other.
Finally, I have to really give it to Cnn and particularly Farid Ahmed and Moni Basu for this no-holds-barred story on the subject.
Hat tip: Instapundit.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]