80 lashes for raped woman

Remember the fuss when an American boy was sentenced to a few lashes when he was convicted of vandalism?

Why the silence then for the 80 lashes of a woman accused by an Islamic court in Bangladesh of having "unlawful sex"?

Hazera Begum, 20, said that she was raped when she went to the fields in Bakshipara, Bangladesh, one day to pick vegetables. But in October 1994 the village Islamic court found *her* guilty because she could not produce three male witnesses to support her rape allegation. Such courts have no legal standing, but their judgements are carried out in Bangladesh. And so Hazera was beaten. She passed out after 35 blows. And all the local clerics have to say is, Hazaera "is a bad girl. We cannot allow her to spoil the men in our ideal village." And meanwhile Hazera despairs, "Who is going to marry me? I've become a social outcast."

Women's right activists say that five women have been publicly flogged in Bangladesh this year. Hazera's case is the only one in which the government has arrested members of the sentencing Islamic court.

Source: AP, 12/18/94

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