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She Was Sentenced to Being Caned 39 Times

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Rahima Begum of Bangladesh was sentenced to being caned 39 times for revealing the father of her child, born out of wedlock. This news, which was reported by Agence France-Presse, does not clearly say if she was sentenced because she pointed out the father or because she had a baby without being married. I think we can safely assume that it is the latter.

Rahima lives in an eastern village in Bangladesh, where fundamental Muslim laws reign. According to these laws, it is taboo to have a child out of wedlock. Incidents like Rahima's are on the rise and are a cause for great worry among human rights groups. As a matter of fact, these incidents are becoming increasingly common. These groups blame hard-line clerics who are taking the law into their own hands, and are meting out harsh punishment by means of the village courts.

What are these so-called crimes for which the clerics are sentencing such inhumane punishment? Well, if you haven't already guessed, they include adultery and being raped. Yes, if you are raped you can be punished. Needless to say, it is mostly women who are found guilty of these so-called crimes. One human rights group reported 15 such incidents of harsh sentencing in May and June.

What happened to the father of Rahima's child? Was he sentenced to any caning? The source of this article, Women's enews, did not say, but I think that we can safely assume that he suffered no punishment. If this isn't misogyny, then what is?

Add a Comment3 Comments

HERWriter Guide

Thanks Ana - more unfortunate news about the dichotomy in laws in many areas of the world.

This story reminds me of the "honor killings" that call for a woman to be murdered (usually by her brothers, uncles or father) if she dishonors them by being raped. The rapist faces no such fate. Why a victim of rape faces death, and her attacker does not, is beyond me. But these honor killings happen all the time. Some women are murdered for dressing inappropriately, or even for an alleged affair that has never been proven - the accuser is usually an angry husband .

The UN estimates that up to 5,000 women are murdered every year this way.

A New York Times report stated that Honor Suicides are a new way of murdering women in these regions by essentially driving them to suicide. Family members pressure and encourage young women (especially young women who have been raped) to kill themselves as a way to 'cleanse' the family. Facing such deep trauma from the sexual assault (with no physical or emotional healing allowed) these women are eventually convinced by their own families that killing themselves is the only solution. It's almost too dreadful to think about.

June 29, 2009 - 5:42pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

Susan,thanks so much for your insight and the information you provided . You are right - it is almost too dreadful to think about. I believe that it is important that we continue to shed light on these abuses of women's rights, which often tragically lead to murders. It is mindboggling to think that a woman who is raped is considered to be a woman who has dishonored her family and can therefore be murdered, and often times is murdered.

June 29, 2009 - 7:51pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anna Portela)


When I said "Thanks Ana - more unfortunate news about the dichotomy in laws in many areas of the world. " I realize I may have sounded sarcastic! Not at all! You give good info!

I agree, as dreadful as it is, we have to shed light on it. Silence is crime's best friend.

June 29, 2009 - 8:05pm
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