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Fatwa against rape victim questioned

Feb. 4, 2011 at 12:29 AM   |   Comments

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Bangladesh high court has taken up the case of a 14-year-old girl whipped to death after being accused of an affair with a married man.

A high court panel in Dhaka, acting on reports about the girl's fate in the Shariatpur district of the capital, gave district officials 15 days to explain why they failed to protect the girl, allegedly whipped to death Monday in accordance with an Islamic Shariah law fatwa, although she was believed to have been raped, Bangladesh's Daily Star reported.

Bangladesh is a progressive, largely Muslim democratic country, where such fatwas have been outlawed.

The BBC reported police have arrested four people, including a Muslim cleric.

The Star report quoted other reports as saying the girl was raped by a 40-year-old relative Sunday but a village arbitration meeting the following day issued the fatwa that the girl receive 100 lashes. The report said the girl fell unconscious after about 80 lashes and later died in a hospital.

The incident has set off protests in the country, the Press Trust of India reported. The 40-year-old man with whom the girl was accused of having an affair also was sentenced to 100 lashes but the man has escaped, the report said.

The Star in a Friday editorial condemned the way "a rape victim in a remote village of Shariatpur, far from being redressed for the abuse she was subjected to, was whipped" to death. The newspaper said a crime was "committed by the so-called village arbitration body that gave the order to lash the girl based on a fatwa issued by a village imam."

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