Village woman mercilessly whipped after fatwa is issued against her
by William Gomes
The woman was punished for filing a paternity claim after her son was born out of wedlock. Village judges say they imposed punishment in accordance with Qur’anic tenets. Human rights activists describe the affair as another “example of social discrimination” and call for greater protection for women.
Dhaka (Asia News) – Rahima Akter, a woman from Noagon (Daudkandi sub-district, eastern Bangladesh), was mercilessly whipped until she lost consciousness after she dared to file a paternity claim against a married man with children. A fatwa ordering that she be whipped 100 times was issued against her by a local Islamic judge for “false testimony”. For human rights activists, the case is but another example of “social discrimination against women” based on the failure to implement laws that protect them and the overall lack of gender equality. After her public ordeal the single mother was taken to the Dhaka Medical College for medical treatment.
“Arbitration in my daughter’s case began at 8 pm on 22 May. The Mawlānā chaired the committee,” Rahina’s mother, Rasheda Begum, told AsiaNews. “She [the daughter] explained that she started an affair with Abdul Karim, who is married and father of three children. As a result of their relation, my grandson Ramzan was born.”
The young mother tried without success to get him to acknowledge paternity and this led to an arbitration hearing, which was held in the village madrassah or Qur’anic school.
“There were 200 to 400 people,” Rasheda Begum said. “My daughter swore on the Qur’an that Karim was the father, but he strongly denied it. He, too, took an oath.”
The arbitration council then ruled that the man was right, based on the Islamic legal principle that the testimony by a man is worth more than that of a woman. Therefore, Rahima was found guilty of perjury and was sentenced to be whipped 100 times.
The sentence was carried out right away, but the young woman lost consciousness after 39 blows. Her parents took her away but the conditions of the young woman were so bad that she had to be hospitalised.
Village leaders also warned the family not to file any complaint with the police, or they would suffer consequences.
Contacted by AsiaNews the doctor that treated Rahina said that when the victim arrived in hospital “she was in a really bad situation. I was shocked at the brutality of the treatment.”
On Tuesday the family too was moved to the hospital where they took DNA tests.
For security reasons, outsiders were not allowed to meet them.