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Priest condemns religious punishments

Whipping to death of Bangladesh teen in fatwa sparks outrage

Three of the four men suspected of killing 14-year-old Hena Begum Three of the four men suspected of killing 14-year-old Hena Begum
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • February 3, 2011
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A Catholic priest in Bangladesh has condemned the banned practice of religious punishments, which recently saw a teenage Muslim girl whipped to death.

“Even though fatwas are banned in the country, people in rural areas still suffer from what is a serious violation of human rights,” said Father Albert Thomas Rozario, a lawyer and secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace.

“People need to be aware that prevailing laws in the country don’t allow punishment according to Islamic laws,” he told ucanews.com.

Father Rozario was referring to the case of Hena Begum, 14, who was allegedly raped by her 40-year-old cousin on Jan. 30 in Shariatpur district in central Bangladesh.

The next day, a fatwa (corporal punishment in Islamic law) was issued at a village arbitration ordering her to receive 100 lashes. She lost consciousness during the punishment and later died in hospital.

Four men were later arrested in connection with the girl’s death.  The girl’s father had accused 18 men of killing his daughter.

Meanwhile, district officials in Shariatpur have been ordered to explain why they failed to prevent the raped girl from being whipped to death.

Law enforcement agencies have also been ordered to submit a report to the High Court within three weeks detailing what steps they are taking to prevent future extra-judicial punishments.

Several human rights organizations have also expressed concern over the incident and demanded punitive action against fatwa imposers.

Related report
Violence against women in Bangladesh rising


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