Salma Akhtar 22, a housewife of district Naogaon in Bangladesh was brutally beaten by her husband on February 24. She was accused of wishing to get more institutional education. After the beating, her husband, Shohag Ali, burned her with kerosene, seriously scorching her over 90% of her skin. She is currently under treatment at the Rajshahi Hospital..
In the last two months alone, 76 cases of assaults by husbands have been published in different local dailies in Bangladesh. This practice does not happen by fits and starts; is in full swing throughout the country — not only to wives from rural areas; sometimes even educated wives who are university graduates suffer beatings.
According to the “Bangladesh Demographic And Health Survey-2007″ by the National Institute of Population Research and Training under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 60 percent of the women in Bangladesh are victims of spousal violence in the country.
The research table reports that the most widely accepted reasons for wife beating are: disobeying elders 24%; arguing with the husband 22%; going out without permission or having informed one’s husband 18%, and neglecting the children 16%. Only 9% percent of women feel that denying sexual intercourse is a reason for a man to beat his wife.
On attitudes toward wife beating, the survey says, 36% of Bangladeshi man age 15-49 agree that at least one of the reasons given is sufficient justification for wife beating.
Although it is not mentioned in the survey, the progressive intellectuals in the country believe that part of this attitude is derived from and inspired by some Quranic verses. A verse (4:34), Surah An-Nisa [the women] of Qur’an says, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient to Allah and to their husbands, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah ordered them to guard. As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them first, next, refuse to share their beds, and finally, beat them, but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means. Surely Allah is ever most high, most great.”
Most of the people in the country strongly believe that the Qur’an is the source and code of life. All the interpretation commonly claim that man are superior to women on account of the qualities with which Allah has gifted the one above the other, because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.
The formal law on the repression of women is tight in Bangladesh. There have been some amendments; apparently now it is satisfactory to the Women Lawyers Association of Bangladesh. But the laws are not effective. With the direct and indirect help of the U.N., the Bangladesh government has established hundreds of village courts which work on family matters with the help of local representatives. But due to the dominance of Islamic instruction, these courts do not administer true justice. The Imams of the more than 250,000 Mosques in the country are ordering the locals, especially men who are arguing with their wives, to follow the orders given by Allah.