by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
A girl named Hena, age 14, was murdered by local Sharia Committee at Shariatpur in the southern part of Bangladesh. The daughter of poor farmer named Darbesh Kha, Hena was forcefully abducted and raped on January 30, 2011 during late at night by Mahbub, age 40. During this abuse, villagers arrived in response to the cries of Hena. At the same time, the imam of the local mosque, a man named Mofiz Uddin, and a few teachers of Madrassa [Koranic School] led by Saiful Islam, also arrived; instead of taking any action against the rapist, the Muslim clergymen took Hena inside the Madrassa and locked her in a room. The following day, the same imam and some of members of the Sharia Committee in the village sat for a trial of Hena on charges of "immoral sexuality" before marriage. Later the committee decided to punish Hena with 200 lashes, and took financial penalty of only TK. 10,000 [US$ 150] from the rapist.
During the lashing, Hena became unconscious; when she was rushed to the nearby village hospital, the attending doctors declared her dead.
After lodging a murder case with the local police station, a few influential members of the local mosque committee, as well as Sharia Law Committee, are telling members of media that Hena was involved in "immoral activities," and the villagers caught her red-handed while she was having physical relations with a villager; and that later the Sharia Law Committee punished Hena for such anti-Islamic and immoral activities. They denied admitting that Hena died during being lashed. Further, a few political leaders in the area are frantically trying to save the rapist and the members of the Sharia Law Committee.
Sharia Law Committees are becoming influential in a number of Muslim nations. Although the committees are illegal under local laws, there has never been any action against such groups by any government: these Sharia Law Committees are comprised of influential leaders of the locality as well as members of various political parties and fronts.
On average, in Bangladesh, several hundred rural females fall victim to such rulings and lashings, as well to other forms of "Islamic Penalties," as Shariah Law Committees become increasingly prevalent.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
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