Because of Islam’s nearly impossible demand of four witnesses (much more detail can be found here), the only thing that mattered was that Hena had sexual contact outside of marriage — consent be damned. This incident — this murder — happened in February, but it is noteworthy both that CNN has just run a report on it, and while they do attribute the punishment to Sharia, the report in its present form sidesteps the fact that the punishment comes directly from the Qur’an (24:2):
“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.”
Why the omission, CNN? Readers want to know. “Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death,” by Farid Ahmed and CNN, March 29 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.
Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.
“Let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.”
Hena dropped after 70.
Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.
Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena’s family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.
Hena’s family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.
Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena’s cousin Mahbub Khan.
Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena’s age and the two were in seventh grade together.
Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena’s father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena’s age.
The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena’s family. But Mahbub was Darbesh’s older brother’s son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.
Many months later on a winter night, as Hena’s sister Alya told it, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.
Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan’s wife heard Hena’s muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.
The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan’s house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.
Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.
How convenient. Khan seems to have been handed a punishment that was never intended to be carried out, while Hena bore the full brunt of the Qur’an’s penalty.