Rise in Bangladesh female canings alarms rights groups
DHAKA: The cuts on Rahima Begum's legs are healing but the unmarried mother of one will carry the psychological scars from a public whipping for revealing the father of her child for a long time to come. In conservative Muslim Bangladesh, having a child out of wedlock is taboo, and the elders in Rahima's eastern village decided she should be taught a lesson after pointing the finger at a neighbour, who denied he was the father. ‘They called me before a makeshift court and ruled that I was a liar,’ the 22-year-old told AFP from her hospital bed. Rahima's punishment was to be caned 39 times in front of elders and Islamic clerics. The case shocked many in Bangladesh, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordering Rahima to be moved from a small village hospital in Comilla to one of the best in the capital Dhaka. There, she is receiving treatment, including counselling, a month after the beating. ‘Every time I close my eyes, I play the scene over and over in my head,’ she said. Human rights groups say Rahima's plight is becoming increasingly common in Bangladesh, with hardline clerics taking the law into their own hands and handing down harsh punishments, mostly to women, found guilty by village courts. The so-called crimes heard by the courts — most common in rural areas, and not recognized as legitimate — range from adultery to being raped, and in one case a Muslim woman was whipped for talking to a Hindu man. Women's groups and human rights activists have protested the unexplained rise in caning cases in the past two months, and note that many such incidents of violence probably go unreported. ‘We've recorded 15 such incidents in May and June. We've never seen such a sharp rise in cases. It's very worrying,’ said Ayesha Khanam, president of the women's group Bangladesh Mahila Parishad. ‘There are undoubtedly many more than have gone unreported.’In Rahima's case, police arrested the men who whipped her, but campaigners say most get away with the beatings because the kangaroo courts have until recently largely been ignored by authorities. Salma Ali, head of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, said that while urban parts of the country were becoming more progressive in dealing with women's rights, some rural areas were going the other way. ‘Conservative Muslim clerics are losing power in a country where women are increasingly holding more prominent positions,’ she said. ‘But some parts of the country are becoming more conservative.’ ‘Perhaps they are inspired by the kinds of courts used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.’ Rahima said the physical and mental suffering of being publicly whipped mean that her hospital bed in Dhaka, 80 kilometres away from her village home, is the safest place for her right now. ‘My legs are almost healed but I'm not ready to go back to the village. I don't know whether I can ever go back,’ she said.
Assam girl still waits for justice New Delhi: Justice still hesitates to come near certain people. Ruksana Begum of Hailakandi district in Assam is one such unlucky girl, who has been waiting for justice to come her way for more than two years. Ruksana became the victim of a gang-rape when she was only 15. Two security guards of the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) tore away the security she enjoyed (living) with her widow-mother Sunapakhi Bibi. The cruel incident that changed the life of Ruksana took place at on 2nd February, 2008. Later in the night, the two guards threatened Ruksana, her mother and her relative Abdul Mannan with death if they dared disclose the incident to anybody or inform the police. However, after meeting with the members of the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), a human rights organization working in the State, Sunapakhi Bibi lodged a complaint with the Silchar police, which was registered as FIR. The BHRPC also filed a complaint with the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The BHRPC conducted its own enquiry into the incident and prepared a fact-finding report, which disclosed some important information in the matter. It found that Atul Das, a public servant working as ‘chowkidar’ (fourth grade employee) in the SMCH had abetted the offence. MK Dey, the Superintendent, SMCH, and Sushanta Nath and Surendra Singh, both in-charges of security of the SMCH, facilitated the act of rape by negligence in their duty. The two in-charges were working on behalf of the Barak Security Agency (BSA), a private security firm providing security to the SMCH under contract. The report also pointed its fingers towards the police; it found that NU Laskar, In-Charge of the Ghughoor Out Post under the Silchar Police Station, Ashok Saha, Offficer-in-Charge of the Silchar Police Station, Satyen Gogoi, SP, Cachar and Gautom Ganguly, District Magistrate, violated the substantial rights to remedies and legal and psychological assistance. The AHRC issued a notice asking the authorities for a report regarding the case. The Superintendent of Police, Cachar, submitted his ‘Enquiry Report’ before the AHRC. But, the report mysteriously remains silent on the charges put forward by the BHRPC. The SP concedes in his report that “prima facie case is well established against FIR-named accused persons”. Later it claims that though the police tried, the accused couldn’t be arrested since they were found absconding to evade arrest. However, the BHRPC says that no attempts have been made to arrest the accused. This shows the negligence on the part of the police growing to a much higher level. The BHRPC has today written to the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, asking her to immediately intervene in the case. The organization has also asked the Government of Assam to entrust the investigation to the CB, CID, Assam Police. Besides, it has demanded to conduct the trial in a fast track court and to grant adequate compensation to the victim.
Report: Indian Muslim women dismayed over ban of burqa by Sarkozy
NEW DELHI, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Many Indian Muslim women have expressed dismay over the decision by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to ban burqa, a traditional wearing of Muslim women, said a report of local newspaper Times of India. From a college lecturer in Mumbai to a young married woman in Bihar and a student in Lucknow, many Indian Muslim women said the burqa is "an article of faith, a pillar of support" which they choose to wear themselves, according to the report. "It is so embarrassing that a head of state can make such an ill-conceived statement. There's simply no compulsion to wear a burqa," the report quoted New Delhi-based Jamia Millia geography professor Haseena Hashia as saying. Many Indian Muslim women believe in a world where sexual-crime is rampant, the burqa "denotes comfort, security and allows a woman her dignity", said the report. Mahruq, a 26-year-old descendant of Nawab Jafar Mir Abdullah royal family in Lucknow, northern India, Mahruq, said she feels safer wearing a burqa to crowded public places and "protected from eve-teasers and anti-social elements as they don't get to see me or my body." Moonisa Bushra Abedi, a professor of nuclear physics in Maharashtra College in Mumbai, said a covered body "sends out a positive signal that says no sexual mischief will be tolerated", according to the report. Sarkozy has imposed the banning of burqa in public places in France because he believes it symbolizes "slavery".
Iran: NCRI Women's Committee calls for sanctions on Mullahs' regime
NCRI Women’s Committee calls on world community to condemn suppression of women sever diplomatic ties and impose sanctions on Mullahs’ regime
NCRI -The scenes of the martyrdom of Neda Salehi Agha Soltani, a young woman who was gunned down on June 20th by agents of the regime, have gripped the world. One of her relatives said: “Neda’s goal was not Mr. [Mir Hossein] Mousavi or [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. Her goal was her country, and it was important to her to take a step in this path. ... Neda was never a supporter of either of these two groups. Neda was after freedom - freedom for all. She said on many occasions that this would be true even if she loses her life and a bullet pierces her heart; and in fact the bullet did just that”. As the world mourns Neda’s loss, the mullahs’ inhumane and misogynist regime has prevented a memorial to be held for her. Women and girls have played an indispensible role in the Iranian people’s nationwide uprising since it began 10 days ago. Their active presence on all fronts and their vanguard role in resisting attacks by the suppressive forces have given a special spirit and thrust to the people’s uprising. Despite the vile actions of the Revolutionary Guards and suppressive forces and their barbaric raids on university dormitories, female students have shown an unprecedented level of resistance. Women have never accepted the mullahs’ disgraceful and misogynist rule, and today they are bravely uprising against it. Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, chair of the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, pointed out that many women and girls have been beaten, injured, arrested and taken to secret torture and detention centers in recent days. She said the international community’s silence and inaction towards these crimes is absolutely unacceptable. She reiterated this is the test of the international community toward the mullahs’ misogynist and medieval dictatorship. She urged all women’s rights and human rights organizations and associations to condemn these crimes and the merciless suppression of youth, in particular of women, in Iran, and to demand for their governments to sever diplomatic ties with the regime and impose comprehensive sanctions until suppression is fully ended. Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran