Monday, July 11, 2011

Whipping, Lashing and Public Humiliation

A year ago, Bangladesh began a crackdown on violent punishments doled out to women under 'fatwas'. The problem? Sometimes the law just isn't enough.

In January, a female survivor of rape in Bangladesh was labelled an adulteress and consequently sentenced to 100 lashes. Following the lashes, 14-year-old Hena Akhter's mother reported, "She couldn't speak or eat afterwards, and she was bleeding through her nose, ears and mouth." Hena died  days later. Since January, reports claim at least 3 other girls have committed suicide following similar public punishments.

These punishments are illegal in Bangladesh. Please do note, fatwas are used in other locations--any that are strongly Islamic. Although this law protects women and their rights, local officials frequently find ways to get around the law.  One of the chief ways of circumventing the illegality of such punishments is to issue "de-facto 'fatwas'".  Fatwas are meant to be religious opinions issued by Islamic scholars.  Such opinions take the form of punishments including whipping, lashing, publicly humiliating women and girls by forcibly cutting their hair or blackening their faces, ostracizing women, girls, and families, and imposing fines.  

At this point, a number of organizations, groups, and individuals are speaking out against the use of fatwas. The continued use of these orders only perpetuate violence against women.

To learn more about this, I encourage you to read this, this and this.

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