CNN reports that Hena Akhter, a 14 year old girl who lived in the Shariatpur district of Bangladesh, was being harassed by her cousin Mahbub Khan, who was three times her age. Hena’s parents reported this to the village elders, who fined Khan but told Hena’s family to drop the matter. Months later, Hena’s cousin gagged and raped her. Khan’s wife found them and beat Hena. The next day the imam pronounced a fatwa: both were found guilty of adultery. Khan was sentenced to 201 lashes – he escaped shortly after the beating began.
Hena was sentenced to 101 lashes. She collapsed after 70 and died later in the hospital.
The initial autopsy pronounced her death a suicide. Following public outcry and media attention another autopsy was performed which confirmed the truth, and the doctors responsible for the first autopsy now face charges of conducting a “false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena’s death.”
Sharia law and fatwas are outlawed in Bangladesh, but journalists and human rights activists say they are all too common:
The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death because of the country’s entrenched patriarchal system.
Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum, Hena’s parents, are pursuing the case despite the fact this obviously puts them in danger. We can only hope this will lead to changes, but of course nothing can bring Hena back. There is no silver lining here.