Hena Akhter was a fourteen-year-old Bangaladeshi girl who caught the eye of Mahbub Khan, a married neighbor (who was also her cousin). Khan started harassing Hena on her way to school. Hena's father complained, and Khan was fined, though he never paid the fine. Several months later, in January of this year, Khan waited outside Hena's home until she came outside to use the outdoor toilet. He gagged, raped and beat her.
Khan's wife heard the commotion, came outside and caught her husband raping Hena. Instead of saving the young girl, she dragged Hena into her house, beat her some more and trampled her on the floor.
Who got punished for this? Hena and Khan were convicted of adultery! They were both sentenced to a lashing – 200 strokes for Khan and 120 for Hena. Khan escaped after a few lashes. Little fourteen-year-old Hena collapsed after 70 lashes and died a week later in the hospital.
And who presided over the "trial" and sentenced Hena to her death? Why, the Imam of course. A man whose entire qualification is that he has studied Sharia law. He wasn't a judge. He wasn't elected by a vote of the people. He never went to law school. He probably never even went to college. He wasn't accountable to anyone but Allah. He is an evil old man who believes women are nothing but property. He believes that a rape victim – even a young girl – is guilty of tempting the man.
The next time you hear that morality can only come from God, remember little Hena. And remember that the Qur'a, the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah have laws that demand horrifying punishments.
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.Got that? The rape victim has to marry her rapist ... but only if he gets caught in the act. If that's the sort of morality that can only come from God, I'll take secular morality any day.
– Deuteronomy 22:28-29
Little Hena's death won't be entirely in vain. The story of Hena's death leaked out and has caused outrage in Bangladesh and around the world. Police have arrested Mahbub Khan and are investigating Hena's death. The village elders and the Imam are in trouble. Hena's family has been given police protection. And the doctor who did the initial autopsy and covered up the true cause of Hena's death is facing prosecution.
Nothing can erase Hena's terrible rape and subsequent lashing, or bring her back from the dead. But maybe the outrage caused by her death will save hundreds or thousands of other young girls from a similar fate.