Opinion | Sexuality

'It Must Stop'

The death of 14-year-old Hena Akhter spotlights concerns the international response to sexual assault.

Last July, Bangladesh's High Court declared fatwas, a ruling or legal opinion given by an Islamic religious leader, illegal. Investigations and news reports of fatwas invoking violence against women led human rights organizations to submit petitions to the court, which then took action.

Yet the practice is still used in Bangladesh, particularly in rural villages, and not always documented. The first reported case of fatwa since the ruling occurred last November when 40-year-old Sufia Begum was brutally caned for an alleged affair. Although doctors suggested she be taken to another hospital that could better tend to her, her family claimed they could not afford to move her. Begum died in December from her injuries.

Violence against women, such as sexual assault, is a global problem; April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. Bangladesh is just one country where the problem is spelled out on the international scene.

On January 31, 14-year-old Hena Akhter died after a fatwa ordered ...

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