Bangladesh has another victim of lashing: The Daily Star editorial

(June 09, 2009)

The self-appointed arbiters must be punished

WITHIN less than two weeks of a Daudkandi woman having suffered 39 lashes by a so-called salish decree, here is now a rape victim in Sirajganj whipped a hundred times with irreparable harm and trauma inflicted on her. To add insult to injury, she was fined Tk 7,000 on a seven-day notice and asked to withdraw the case she had filed, or face expulsion from her village.

The quick succession in which the incidents took place is indicative of a recurrence after a relative lull in fatwabaji, although nobody can be too sure it didn’t play out in some form or the other in the perceived interregnum.

All this is multiple victimisation, once by rape, the other by transfer guilt on to the victim, another by physical brutalisation through an unlawful decree and yet another by ruining the future of the girl. The acts of savagery were perpetrated taking full advantage of the vulnerabilities of women. These got exploited by the rural influential finding it expedient to use the services of village zealots to hide their crime. This is no less a pointer, however, to what should have been the role of the local administration, police and lower judiciary to be quickly cognizant of the offences and preempting them.

In the Daudkandi case, the woman appealed for a DNA test to establish paternity of the child she bore, but this was ignored. But in the Sirajganj instance, the victim had filed a case in the court whereupon the judge ordered investigation. The police officer who investigated the case submitted charges against the accused before the court after ascertaining facts from the local people. Then, apparently, a village influential who sheltered the offender taking the plea for socially settling the dispute held a salish at his residence under his chairmanship. That is how the atrocious ex-parte judgement got delivered.

The matter should be fully gone into and the perpetrators appropriately punished so that others are deterred from following in their footsteps.

In this context, it is worthwhile to recall a High Court ruling to the effect that in cases of sexual crimes there is no legal bar to accepting the victim’s testimony before the court, when no other evidence is available, as the basis for prosecuting the accused.

Daily Star for more

via South Asia Citizens Web

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