Bangladesh Wisely Bans Flogging Rape Victims

Illustration for article titled Bangladesh Wisely Bans Flogging Rape Victims

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.

Advertisement

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?

Fatwa llegal [The Daily Star]
Bangladeshi Court Outlaws Fatwa Punishment [The Independent]

Advertisement

Related: Bangladesh Deploys Female UN Peacekeepers [BBC]

DISCUSSION

According to General Romeo Dallaire in his book "Shake Hands with the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" the reason that Bangladesh sends so many Peacekeepers out on missions is because the UN will take care of their needs while they are deployed.

I wonder if this is a factor in why Bangladeshi Peacekeepers are going to Haiti. It seems a little odd to be sending women from a predominately Muslim country who speak Bengali and (probably) English to a predominately Catholic country where most women speak Creole and sometimes French.