Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lifting the veil on victim-blaming*

* Disclaimer: This post is not in any way a comment on France's ban on full face veils.

photo credit: pixdaus.com
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article about a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl named Hena Akhter, who was severely punished for being raped:

"An imam at a local mosque issued a fatwa saying that Hena was guilty of adultery and must be punished, and a village makeshift court sentenced Hena to 100 lashes in a public whipping."

The rapist was also sentenced to a public whipping, but he escaped after the first few lashes.

Hena later died of her injuries, and doctors recorded her death as a suicide.

As I posted the link to the article on Facebook, I thought about what a horror it is that such things still happen in other parts of the world, and how the community of faith needs to work to stop them.

Last Friday, 20/20 ran a story about an American woman named Tina Anderson who endured molestation and rape as a child and young teenager. When, at 15, she discovered she was pregnant by the rapist, she was treated as an adulterer by her pastor. She quotes him as saying, "You're lucky you don't live in Old Testament times," and tells of him pointing to the passage in Deuteronomy that instructs public stoning "because I didn't cry out."

Tina was forced to confess her pregnancy in front of her church, and she was banished to another state for the remainder of her pregnancy. Her rapist, after a confession of adultery (set up as an incident unrelated to Tina's pregnancy), continued to serve as a deacon in the church.

Years later, Tina still lives with the grief and pain of betrayal upon betrayal.

I'm not suggesting that what happened to Tina Anderson compares to what happened to Hena Akhter.

But the similarities are chilling.

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