A murder investigation has been opened in the death of Hena Begum, the 14-year-old old Bangladeshi girl who was publicly flogged after being accused of having an affair with her cousin–who actually raped her.
The BBC reports that after an initial autopsy found no injuries on the young girl, Bangladesh’s High Court had Begum’s body exhumed. (There had been reports that there was a local attempt in the young girl’s village to cover up the case.) Doctors in Dhaka Medical College conducted another postmortem examination and concluded that Begum actually bled to death.
“Multiple injuries were found. The girl died because of bleeding,” Altaf Hossain, deputy attorney general, told the BBC.
The High Court has asked the doctors who carried out the first investigation to explain their initial findings.
The BBC reports that Mahbub Khan, Begum’s 40-year-old old married cousin who raped her, was found guilty and also sentenced to be lashed by the village council, but escaped during his punishment. Police arrested him yesterday.
As tragic as this incident is, the fact that it is receiving so much media attention both at home and abroad, that it went to Bangladesh’s High Court, that Begum’s body was exhumed and now a murder investigation has been opened is a very positive sign that Bangladeshi society is no longer willing to tolerate these abhorrent cases of violence against women and girls. More often than not, these cases go unnoticed and uncovered.
Hopefully Hena Begum’s death will serve as a warning sign to local village elders and clerics that taking the law into your own hands–especially in order to commit violence against girls and women–is no longer something you can get away with in Bangladesh.
Image from Wikimedia under Creative Commons 3.0