Friday, 27 May 2011

Islam Watch - "angladesh: Woman whipped mercilessly in public after fatwa over paternity of child" by William Gomes

Rahima Akter, a 26-year-old destitute woman, is groaning with
pain at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, after she was being
whipped mercilessly in public based on an Islamic fatwa over claim
of paternity of her child Ramzan in a remote village Noagon in
Daudkandi, Bangladesh.

Rahima’s Mother Rasheda Begum told Asia News that Rahima had
developed a relation with Abdul Karim of the same village, and gave
birth to the child; they moved from door to door for arbitration on
the claim of paternity of the child, but without any result.

Around 8 p.m. on May 22, a 6-member Fatwa committee, led Maulana
Abul Kashem started the arbitration in the local Noagon Ayesha
Sidikka Nurani Hafizia Madrasa (Islamic School), jam-packed with
around 200-400 peoples people; the arbitration continued until
midnight. Mr. Karim, the alleged father of the child, denied
paternity by touching the Koran in front of the committee.

Then Maulana Abul Kashem, who led the fatwa committee, then asked
to Rahima said to say truth by touching Koran, she did. But, the
Maulana called her as a liar. Rahima then demanded DNA testing of

Ignoring the request, Maulana Kashem issued a fatwa that Rahima
should be whipped 100 times, according to Islamic law for
fornication, as she was a single mother. The fatwa committee, said
Rohima's mother, asked her father Abdul Matin to tie her hands, and
they whipped her in front of her father. The Mullas beat her father,

"I was standing there as a very helpless mother in the midst of
Mullas and full of people," said Rahima’s mother, "wondering that
who will come to help us, no one came to help us, all stood by the
side of the Mullas."

Rahima lost her consciousness after 39 lashes, and her father
took her home. "After my daughter got back to sense, she could not
sleep at night," said Rahima’s Mother.

On  May 23 morning, they took her to Daudkandi Thana Health

After a case filed with the police, Maulana Abul Kashem's
supporters threatening Rahima's family to withdraw the case.

Dr. Mohammed Sarfaraz Hossain Khan, who treated Rahima Akter at
Daudkandi Thana Health Complex, told Asia News that Rahima came to
the hospital in a very bad pain; she was not even able to seat, he
lower part of the body, specially the buttock, had very bad
swelling. "I was shocked at treating the brutality," said Dr. Khan.

Rahima was then sent to the One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) of Dhaka
Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on May 26 for DNA testing.

The coordinator of OCC confirmed that Rahima Akter, her Father
Abdul Matin and son Ramzan were in OCC, and no outsider were allowed
to meet them for security reason.

Jahanara, Abdul Karim's Mother,  told Asia News, "Allah
Knows that Rahima is a liar and the Mullas treated her according to

"My son Abdul Karim is married and have three grown up sons, Emon
(8), Ekram (6), Mahi (2)," she added.

Hafez Hafizullah of the Noagon Ayesha Sidikka Nurani Hafizia
Madrasa told Asia News that, Rahima was whipped according to the
Islamic Sahria, and as a Muslim she should accept the ruling.

Barrister Shafiq Ahmed, Minister of Law, Justice and
Parliamentary Affairs, told Asia News that there no acceptability of
“Fatwa”; it is fully illegal in course of law; and on this issue of
Rahima Akter, a case has been filed with the police, and the
perpetrators will be brought under the law.

"Three out of the six accused were arrested upon a case filed by
Abdul Matin the father of the victim," Daudkandi police chief
Moshiur Rahman told Asia News.

The arrestees are Moulana Abul Kashem, 55, Abdul Karim, 35, and
Shah Alam, 50.

"The police are trying to catch the other accused in the case,"
Rahman said.

Ms. Khushi Kabir, Coordinator of Nijera Kori, a local human
rights organization helping the poor family with legal aid told Asia
news, "There is no specific law on the issue fatwa (religious edict)
and defining the paternity, the government should take proper
initiative to come out of the crisis immediately by introducing new

She said that the case of Rahima is another sordid example of a
young woman being subjected to gross injustice by the village
headmen assuming the role of arbitrators.

Prominent Human rights activist and a barrister Ms. Sarah Hossain
said to Asia News, "The reason behind this brutal event are two
folded: social discrimination against woman, and the lack of
implementation of relevant laws to prevent violence against woman."

"For last 15 years, we are campaigning against "Fatwa”," she
said, adding, "10 years ago the High Court of Bangladesh has given
verdict against “Fatwa” and declared “Fatwa” illegal. But it’s a sad
thing that until now the verdict of the High Court has not fully

"I demand an impartial investigation and financial remedy and
security of Rahima and her family," she said.

"I affirm my strong position against this brutality."


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