At the same time as Iman al-Obeidi finds herself charged for being raped, this peculiarly Islamic phenomenon is not limited solely to Libya.
This horrifying piece at CNN examines the case of 14 year-old Hena Akhter, who was lashed to death in Bangladesh on charges of adultery. In reality, she was raped. The article provides these details:
Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.
Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan's wife heard Hena's muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.
The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan's house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.
Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.
That the rapist/"co-adulterer" was also charged and punished does not diminish the inherent misogyny of this sentence, since such an unjust ruling could only occur as the result of a legal process that deems a woman's testimony to be worthless before a court. The Qur'an says: "And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember.” (2:282)
When Muhammad was asked why a woman's testimony was worth half that of a man, he explained: “This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind.” (Bukhari v.3, b.48, no.826)
Then, of course there is also the fact that, as I explained in another recent post, Islamic law requires four male witnesses to establish a charge of sexual misconduct - a virtually impossible standard to fulfil.
Further on, the CNN article notes:
Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. But activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems.
The Supreme Court also outlawed fatwas a decade ago, but human rights monitors have documented more than 500 cases of women in those 10 years who were punished through a religious ruling. And few who have issued such rulings have been charged.
The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death because of the country's entrenched patriarchal system.
This is another one of those facts that utterly invalidates the claims of Islamic apologists that Islam "empowers" women. Not only do the above statistics reinforce the obvious fact that wherever Islam predominates, women suffer; they also shed light on the futility of invoking "happy" Muslim women in the Islamic world as proof that Islam cherishes women's rights. In a society where the consequence of speaking out against abuse is more abuse, praise for the oppressive force is obviously illegitimate.
Unfortunately, it appears that it will take many, many more cases like that of Hena Ahkter before the Western Left - and even, increasingly, the Right - starts to get the picture.