In December, I passed along the story of Hawa Akther, whose husband cut off the fingers of her right hand when he found she was attending college.
The BBC has an update, with both good and bad news. The good news is, Ms. Akther is a remarkable woman. Her right hand has been surgically modified by rehabilitation doctors so that she can hold a pen or pencil, and she is right back on her quest to become a lawyer:
“All those horrible things happened to me because I wanted to study. So, I will pursue my education. Doctors say I cannot write [in] my exam for three hours at a stretch. So, I need a writer for the exam. But I will continue practising with my right hand,” she said.
Her determination to fulfil this objective has even tempted her to break rules at home.
“I had to register and pay exam fees three days after my fingers were cut off. So, my parents told me not to sit for them this year,” she said.
“But I didn’t want to miss it. So I took money from my mother’s handbag without her knowledge and paid my fee,” she said with a giggle.
The bad news is that she is but one example of what is a growing problem:
The 2011 Human Rights Report by the Odhikar organisation points out that violence against women is on the rise in the country.
It said that more than 300 women may have been killed in dowry-related violence last year. In addition to this, dozens of women were also killed in rape and acid attacks.
There is social stigma attached to reporting such incidents; I can only hope that Akther’s case makes her an international hero, that she can model perseverance and courage, and that newly empowered women will change the world.