Monday, February 7, 2011

100 Lashes of Death for Hena and to the Conscience of Bangladesh: Many Thousands Henas are There..

Bangladeshi whipping victim's mother

 Internet Photo of Hena (now dead) and her griefing Mother

(RealTimeBangladesh Blog, February 2011)

The Daily Star story on Hena- latest victim of village (un) justice in Bangladesh has been making its round in News/Blogsphere after news-setter website DrugeReport picked it up. The Daily Star reported:

According to witnesses, Hena was whipped at least 50 times a day after she was raped allegedly by her 40-year-old cousin Mahbub and physically tortured by Mahbub's wife and in-laws on January 23. The next day, Imam of local mosque Saifullah passed a fatwa for whipping the girl 101 times and Mahbub 200 times. He also fined Mahbub Tk 50,000.
The fatwa was given in a closed-door meeting, arranged by the family of Mahbub's wife Shilpi in collusion with Idris Sheikh, member of Chamta union parishad. At one stage of the lashing, Hena collapsed to the ground, witnesses add. Still, Idris and some others did not allow Hena's family to take her to hospital until January 25, when her condition worsened.

AP cites the local police officer Mr. Rahman giving further details:
" the 40-year-old man with whom Hena was allegedly involved was also sentenced to 100 lashes. But the man fled, escaping the punishment, he said. "We are hunting for the man".

Note this is a very special country- in 2011 it will mark the two decades of Women Power- since 1991 all the prime-ministers in Bangladesh has been women!  Possibly unique in the world. Also a unique contrast!

Not only the Fatwabaz imam, but  a much a bigger problem lies here ( Mr. Idris who supposedly whipped  was a local Union Parishad member- an elected position). What we see here is a case of abject poverty, ignorance and ensuing inability of poor people to claim their rights. Such fatwa etc. are already illegal. Indeed the High Court of Bangladesh is now on it. But, that does not always impact the practice on the ground.

The deep rooted poverty in the Bangladesh and in the sub-continent keeps millions of people (almost 20-30% of the population) in deep problem. First  of all, many do not know what is the law. Secondly, even if they know they cannot exert their rights.

There is hardy any modern government institutional arm to reach them.  In villages when calamity descends in the form of famine, flood, local conflict, property seizure, job loss, it is the village power structure which provides whatever forms of shelter/protection. Thus when this very local power structure imposes a verdict they have to accept it.

A follow up report by The Guardian quotes the poor father of Hena Mr. Darbesh:

"I'm not educated," Darbesh said. "I don't know what the court laws are. But I know that if I don't listen to the elders, we would be outcast. None of my daughters could marry, no one would even look at us.

The rest- ‘enlightened’ middle class- who run the ‘democratic’ governments, all  its institutions, hardly cares to change this situation.  Even the woman prime-ministers are not a help.  They too entrenchedly belong to a separate elite class. This class has their own problems to overwhelm them. Plus they can get supply of cheap indenture labor by maintaining this statuesque of limited rights for millions by perpetuating ignorance.

Not only prime minister and ex prime-ministers, the current foreign  minister and home minister in-charge of law enforcement and security are female two. But just few weeks back Sheersha News, Daily Sun, and The Probe reported:
"Rapid Action Battalion on Wednesday arrested 19 sex workers and 20 boarders at a residential hotel [Imperial Guest House, Dhaka], owned by Home Minister Sahara Khatun, in the city."
It is really strange. But in Bangladesh there has very little public commotion on it.

Hena and her class supply cheap labor for agriculture, labor for industry (including  the garment industry which supplies your own shirts and clothing worldwide) and servants in every middle class household. Many of them are Hena- and their exploitation has little to do with religious Fatwa!

The fatwa death is merely a collateral side-effect of this bigger exploitation. The middle class  here  is not sure if they want a real change. Because it also means giving up all these privileges. So only lip services are available- crocodile tears, some side punch to popular punch bag- religious idiots- here is an example) etc.  when such a tragic incident is reported in media- rather than addressing its economic root.

Alarmingly, this income differential is growing further in Bangladesh. Food price is creating extreme pressure.

This one looks extreme?  But such sinister human rights violations- acid burning, intentional maiming of children inside cooking pot for begging business-  has  been reported almost every other week in Bangladesh Newspapers. Ask your enlightened Bangladeshi friend- almost all middle class household- including his/her have house servants!

It is interesting to see that prominent Western Blogsphare (Drugereport, Huffington Post) has picked the story of one Hena up. Hope they also point to the real cause of income differential and economic exploit.

No comments:

Post a Comment