Bangladeshi woman whipped for failing to ‘prove’ child’s paternity

May 26th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, May 26 (IANS) A young woman who could not ‘prove’ the paternity of her newborn child was whipped on the orders of a village headman in eastern Bangladesh.
Thirty-nine whip lashes were delivered in the name of ’salish’, the Islamist religious diktat, after the woman’s neighbour rejected her claim that he was the father of the child.

The woman demanded a DNA test to prove her point, The Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday, supporting her standpoint and demanding action against those responsible for ordering the whipping.

“…how can the fate of the hapless poor women be left to the people having no sympathy for them and, obviously, no sense of justice?” the newspaper asked.

The whipping of the woman in Daudkandi, a sub-district of Comilla, was in contravention of a Dhaka High Court ruling that in cases of sexual crime there is no legal bar to accept the victim’s testimony before the court as the basis for prosecuting the accused.

“This high court ruling should have gone a long way in curbing such crimes, but the ground reality is that the vulnerable women are still subjected to such an oppressive practice not recognised by the law of the land,” the newspaper said in an editorial Tuesday.

The editorial noted that similar incidents took place when “the village mullahs and influential people, out of their abysmal ignorance and a marked bias against women, almost always sided with the male offenders, and meted out painful punishment to the women seeking justice”.

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