Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Story of Hena

In this sometimes sad evil world we live in I honestly find it hard to be shocked by anything I see on the news. Call me cold if you must but I sometimes just expect the worst out of my fellow human beings. But having said this I also have to say that the story of 14 year old Hena Akhter brought tears to my eyes. It's quite possibly one of the saddest stories I have ever heard and one I feel the need to pass on.

Hena was a Bangladeshi girl who was attacked by an older man when she went to an outdoor toilet. She was than bound, gagged, and raped by that man who turned out to be her 42 year old cousin, Mahbub Khan. The wife of the Khan saw it happen but instead of helping Hena she dragged her to their hut where she beat her. The imam of the local mosque found Hena guilty of adultery and ordered she be punished and a ramshackle local court sentenced her to 100 lashes in a public whipping. Hena continued to plead her innocence as she was led to the village square for the sentence to be carried out. A CNN blog post said that the parents “had no choice but to mind the imam’s order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.” She dropped after 70 lashes and died in a hospital a week later.

Immediately following her death doctors recorded it as a suicide because women and girls who are raped are supposed to commit suicide to spare the family, I would say the men of the family, embarrassment. Currently these doctors and others, including Khan, are under arrest and investigation because Bangladesh outlawed Sharia and fatwas over ten years ago. The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, and death because of the country’s male dominated system.

I can think of no definition of the word crime that Hena could have been found guilty of. You may have figured out by now that I am in no way a religious girl, quite the opposite. At the same time I won’t fault somebody their religion as long as they don’t try to force it on me but after this I think the mere sight of the word Sharia will make me sick. Sharia justified the absolutely inhumane whipping to death of a young girl who committed no crime at all. It seems to me her only crime was being born a female in a male dominated society.

Hena wasn’t even old enough to get married.

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