12:00 AM, February 07, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 07, 2011

Raped Girl Whipped to Death

Police, post-mortem miss injury marks

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Emran Hossain, from Shariatpur


Neither the police inquest nor the post-mortem found any injury marks on Hena's body though the national media quoting numerous witnesses reported she had been whipped to death following a fatwa at Chamta village of the district.
The Daily Star studied both the reports which also contradict the confessions made by the two detained local arbitrators before a court that the girl had been lashed in their presence.
The findings of the inquest and the post-mortem have not only surprised the victim's family members but also the doctors and nurses who attended Hena during her six-day stay in hospital.
Contacted, two forensic experts at Suhrawardi Medical College and Hospital in the capital suggested a fresh autopsy as early as possible.
A senior nurse at Shariatpur Sadar Hospital described to this correspondent how traumatised and depressed the 15-year-old girl was when admitted there on January 25.
“For the next three days she could not walk. There were injury marks all over her face. I tried to check her body but the family members did not allow,” Archana, the senior nurse, continued.
Fearing social disgrace, Hena's relatives did not disclose the actual cause of her injuries to the doctors.
They instead said she had sustained the injuries from falling.
The senior nurse added that Hena could not take food, so they had to feed her intravenously.
She then informed Dr Sultan Ahmed about her condition.
Dr Sultan told The Daily Star he found that the girl was physically assaulted and referred her to the surgical department of the hospital.
Head of the surgical department Dr Nirmal Chandra Das said the girl “almost recovered” from her injuries when relatives insisted on her release.
“We are under no compulsion to inform the law enforcers until a patient is dead in an assault case,” said Dr Nirmal, also the residential medical officer, when asked why he had not informed the police.
On her release from the hospital on January 30, she had to be carried to a car, said Chunnu Mia, Hena's brother-in-law.
“There was a tremendous pressure from some local influential people, including the union parishad member, to get Hena out of the hospital. Scared, the family asked for her release,” said Chunnu.
Dr Sultan, however, said the girl was not in a condition to be released.
Hena's father Darbesh Kha, a day-labourer, said he cannot describe how cruelly his daughter was tortured. “My 15-year-old child was brutally whipped.”
Those giving her bath before burial also saw injury marks all over the body. Of them, her cousin Minu said there were bruises on her thighs, chest, lower abdomen and hands.
Minu, who had accompanied her to the hospital, said, “Hena broke down in tears and told me how Mahbub gagged her and raped.”
The Daily Star talked to at least three witnesses to the whipping and a dozen others who saw the injuries Hena suffered from whipping on January 24.
The two forensic experts at Suhrawardi Medical College and Hospital said external injuries might fade out in a week but it takes at least two weeks for the internal ones to disappear.
“The whipping must have severed blood vessels under the skin; there must have been signs of this under the skin. A proper post-mortem cannot fail to trace such injuries,” said one of the experts requesting anonymity.
According to witnesses, Hena was whipped at least 50 times a day after she was raped allegedly by her 40-year-old cousin Mahbub and physically tortured by Mahbub's wife and in-laws on January 23.
The next day, Imam of local mosque Saifullah passed a fatwa for whipping the girl 101 times and Mahbub 200 times. He also fined Mahbub Tk 50,000.
The fatwa was given in a closed-door meeting, arranged by the family of Mahbub's wife Shilpi in collusion with Idris Sheikh, member of Chamta union parishad.
At one stage of the lashing, Hena collapsed to the ground, witnesses add.
Still, Idris and some others did not allow Hena's family to take her to hospital until January 25, when her condition worsened.
Following her death, police arrested four people -- Hafez Mofiz, Joynal Shikhder, Ala Box, and Shilpi. Hafez Mofiz, Joynal Shikhder made the confession before a magistrate court.
Police have yet to arrest the rest including the main culprit Mahbub, Saifullah, Idris and Monimala, who lashed Hena.
The Daily Star also found the case filed with Noria Police Station inconsistent with the incident described by the victim's family members. In the case, the place of occurrence has been wrongly recorded.
The deputy commissioner of Shariatpur said the matter did not come to their notice, as the victim and the perpetrators are close relatives who tried to settle it among themselves.

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