Friday 4 February 2011

Bangladeshi girl, 14, dies after receiving 100 lashes

Four arrested and another 14 hunted by police, accused of taking part in lashing ordered by village court.

Four people have been arrested in Bangladesh after the death of a 14-year-old girl who was given 100 lashes on the orders of a village cleric.
Mosammet Hena died in hospital on Sunday after being beaten with a bamboo cane for allegedly having an illicit relationship with a married cousin. A complaint had been made against her by the man's wife, Shilpi Begum, at a makeshift village court, or shalish, presided over by senior community members.
Begum has now been arrested on suspicion of murder alongside three villagers including imam Mofiz Uddin, who allegedly issued the edict. Another 14 villagers who are accused of taking part in the public lashing, or of being complicit in the girl's murder by failing to prevent her from being whipped, are still being hunted by police.
"What sort of justice is this? My daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice," Mosammet's father, Dorbesh Khan, 60, told the BBC.
Mosammet was buried yesterday in her family graveyard in Naria, Shariatpur, about 40 miles south of the capital, Dhaka.
Police said Begum told the shalish she had seen Mosammet speaking to her husband, Mahbub, 40, near their home. The shalish ruled that Mosammet and Mahbub should each be flogged 100 times, according to Assistant Superintendent Talebur Rahman. Mosammet was dragged inside a house by about 20 to 25 people, including four women. She collapsed unconscious halfway through and was taken to hospital, where she died a week later. Mahbub, who was beaten by his father, is said by police to be on the run.
The case has sent shockwaves around Bangladesh, where punishments in the name of fatwa – a religious edict – have been outlawed since last year. Authorities were ordered by the high court to act to stop punishments, and told that a failure to do so breached their constitutional duties.
Since Mosammet's death lawyers have filed a case against the government at the court, and a team of investigators from a human rightsorganisation has travelled to the village. Its director of investigations, Nur Khan Liton, said: "This is an absolutely horrific crime. It shows that despite court judgments banning punishments in the name of fatwa, an aggressively religious group who are capable of committing such barbaric crimes of torture against women are still present in our society."
Local media have reported that Mosammet was raped by Mahbub and Begum heard her cries, then came out and began beating her. Police do not accept this.
Fariha Karim

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