|Hana Begum. Photo: BBC.|
Hana Begum, 14-year-old, was reportedly accused of having an affair with a married man. On the basis of this accusation, the teenager was sentenced to 80 lashes by a village Islamic court in Shariatpur, Bangladesh. Her family told the BBC that the teenager died six days after she was flogged.
It's worth mentioning that initial post-mortem results conflict with a second post-mortem ordered by the High Court.
After her body was exhumed on the orders of the High Court, doctors found "injuries" and reported that Hana died "because of bleeding." This finding conflicts with initial post-mortem results, and corroborates a statement made by her father - "my daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice."
Bangladesh is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it acceded to on September 2000.
Article 6 of the ICCPR states that "everyone has the inherent right to life. The right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."
Article 7 stipulates that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
The People's Republic of Bangladesh is also party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which accords all children (including Hana Begum) the right to protection of the law. Article 19 of the CRC obliges States Parties to protect children from all forms of violence or abuse, maltreatment or exploitation.
Drawing from the above covenants - the government of Bangladesh has failed in its obligations under international law.
The state should thoroughly and impartially investigate the death of Hana Begun, bring those responsible to justice and protect all children within its borders from such cruelty.
Some noticeable steps have been taken in this direction. A police investigation for murder is on-going; doctors who carried out the initial autopsy have been summoned by the High Court for questioning and five other people have been arrested in relation to the case.
This cruel punishment that was levied on Hana Begum under Sharia law was outlawed in Bangladesh by the High Court in 2010, but a lot more needs to be done to eradicate the practice.
Culprits of such unspeakable violence against a minor should bear the full weight of the law.