Friday, January 29, 2010

Vile Fatwa In Bangladesh

A 16 year-old rape victim is punished with 100 lashes.

This 'gruesome brutality' and 'parallel system of justice that misuse the name of religion' is roundly condemned by the Bangladesh Daily Star here.

JUSTICE has been made a farce of once again. In a shocking repetition of misuse of fatwa, a rape victim was at the receiving end of a hundred and one lashes; the punishment was fixed through local arbitration participated by some village elders in a village in Kashba upazilla. And the rapist is roaming scot-free.

The incident is shocking not only for the gruesome brutality meted out to the 16 year old girl, but also because of the attitude of the law enforcing agency who did not act promptly enough to prevent the whipping or take cognisance of the incident later. It is very clear that the High Court directive to the police, issued in August 2009, to investigate all extrajudicial punishments, has not been fully implemented. Had that been the case the perpetrators would have been brought to justice and made examples of, and this would have acted as a deterrent to others.

The recent incident is disturbing on two counts. It demonstrates once again that helpless women, who are victims of rape and other forms of torture, not only cannot seek redress of law, they and their parents are further subjected to physical and mental torture including social ostracisation, as in the recent case in Kashba.

The other disturbing aspect is the role of the police. We cannot comprehend the statement the OC of Kashba PS that he would take appropriate action if the victim filed a case in this regard. He is in clear breach of the High Court directives in this regard. It is even more disturbing because three women have been victims of lashing as result of fatwa in this very district during the current month.

One cannot speak too strongly against this kind of aberrations that is being used to perpetrate violence against women. This practice must stop immediately. We join with the conscious segment of the society in calling upon the government to take steps to stop the parallel system of justice that misuse the name of religion. While the highest court has taken cognisance of the matter the police have not been quite up to the task earnestly as yet.
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