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 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.
The man, Mahbub Khan, escaped after receiving only a few lashes.
Shariah law and fatwas have been outlawed in Bangladesh, says CNN, but that hasn’t stopped imams from issuing them. Some human rights groups have documented up to 500 such cases in the last 10 years.
Despite Hena’s death, there appears to be some sort of justice on the horizon. Police are now conducting an investigation, and the doctors responsible for Hena’s initial autopsy face charges for falsifying their report. The country’s high court already stepped in to order her body exhumed, which led to the real cause of death: internal bleeding caused by massive external injuries.
Earlier this month police stood guard at the home of Darbesh and Aklima Khan, Hena’s parents. They fear a backlash from the community for speaking out against the imam.
“She was innocent,” Aklima, Hena’s mother, said. “I’ve nothing to demand but justice,” Darbesh added.