In January, a sixteen-year-old Bangladeshi girl was lashed 101 times for being raped and impregnated. Her rapist was pardoned. But the case helped precipitate the most judgment yet banning extrajudicial punishment against women.
In response to a petition filed by local human rights organizations, the Bangladeshi high court has
outlawed fatwa punishments, making it a crime for village elders to mete out punishments according to religious law.
According to Bangladesh's Daily Star, the petitions noted that law enforcement agencies ignored violence against women when committed by religious leaders in the name of fatwa, despite constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They add,
[Local human rights activist] Sultana Kamal...said repression against women in the name of fatwa will decrease following the HC verdict.
Women who want to control themselves as per their choice will get the right to protect themselves, she said, adding that perpetrators cannot impose their religious and cruel concepts upon them.
And the director of Dhaka's BRAC University school of law told Agence France-Presse:
"The cases of beatings, whippings and public humiliations of people, especially poor rural women, would be drastically reduced following this verdict. It states clearly that nobody has the power to inflict physical and mental torture to any person in the name of religion."
The human rights organizations' case was argued by a female barrister. Meanwhile, the UN's first-ever all female police force is made up of Bangladeshi officers whose mission is to protect Haitian women from assault. Two cheers for Bangladesh?
Related: Bangladesh Deploys Female UN Peacekeepers [BBC]