I don’t care how hard a bastard you are, or how bloody tolerant you think you should be of other people’s faiths, beliefs and traditions, but this is just sickening and has no place on this earth.
Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.
Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man.
The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.
Hena dropped after 70.
Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.
These people live in a dark ages. And the parents had to watch it.
Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena’s cousin Mahbub Khan.
Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena’s age and the two were in seventh grade together.
Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena’s father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena’s age.
The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena’s family. But Mahbub was Darbesh’s older brother’s son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.
Many months later on a winter night, as Hena’s sister Alya told it, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.
Ah, so it’s her fault now. I’ve seen this play out before.
The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan’s house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship.
“I’ve nothing to demand but justice,” said [father] Darbesh Khan, leading a reporter to the place where his daughter was abducted the night she was raped.
He stood in silence and took a deep breath. She wasn’t even old enough to be married, he said, testament to Hena’s tenderness in a part of the world where many girls are married before adulthood. “She was so small.”
Hena’s mother, Aklima, stared vacantly as she spoke of her daughter’s last hours. She could barely get out her words. “She was innocent,” Aklima said, recalling Hena’s last words.
Police were guarding Hena’s family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.