Bangladeshi Cleric Among Four Arrested for Stoning Woman Over Alleged Affair

Mon Apr 10 2023
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DHAKA: An Islamic cleric and three village elders in Bangladesh have been arrested for ordering the stoning and caning of a woman accused of having an extramarital affair.

Hamida Sultana was allegedly caned 82 times and stoned with small brick pieces 80 times after an imam issued a fatwa, a religious decree, punishing her.

The incident took place in Habiganj in the northeast of the country.

The Muslim-majority country of 170 million people has a secular legal system, and Sharia law cannot be applied in criminal cases.

The fatwa sparked protests by feminist groups and human rights activists, who demanded the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Police Inspector Zakir Hossain said four people, including the imam of the mosque, were arrested after Sultana filed a criminal case on April 7 against 17 people.

The village council ordered the punishment in the name of Sharia law, claiming it would absolve her of her sin and redeem her honour.

Bangladeshi victim of terrible injustice

Sultana, who spoke to AFP, said she was a “victim of terrible injustice” and that she could not express in language what was done to her.

Her husband, Anwar Mia, who works in Oman, returned after the incident and is also seeking justice for his wife.

Decades ago, village councils in Bangladesh commonly used Sharia law to punish Muslim women accused of adultery.

In 2011, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh allowed fatwas to be issued but prohibited their enforcement.

The decision effectively allowed Sharia law to be followed voluntarily but prohibited any kind of punishment in the name of Islamic law by clerics or village councils.

The arrests of the cleric and the village elders come as feminist groups and rights activists in Bangladesh continue to advocate for women’s rights and an end to gender-based violence in the country.

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