Life after fingers

Hawa Akther Jui, the Bangladeshi woman whose husband (allegedly) chopped off her fingers with a meat cleaver because she was getting an education…is doing better than she was right after her fingers were chopped off.

Ms Akther, 21, had lost all hopes of writing again after her fingers were cut off, allegedly by her husband because she started attending a college without his permission.

Doctors at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Dhaka carried out a series of surgical operations on Ms Akther’s hand, which involved setting up a splint between her thumb and wrist so that she can hold a pencil or a pen.

“The fact that I can write again has given me lots of hope and confidence. I have slowly started practising. I will continue my studies and achieve my aim of becoming a lawyer,” Ms Akther said while sitting in her parents’ one-bedroom house in the town of Narsingdi.

Which is nice, but it would be even nicer if she had been allowed to keep all her fingers despite her presumptuous act in attending a college.

The mutilation has definitely not dented her resolve to continue with her studies. She proves that by writing a few sentences using a pencil.

“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.

Women’s rights activists in Bangladesh point out that the brutal attack on Ms Akther is part of a growing trend of violence against educated women.

In June last year, a university lecturer lost her eyesight in an attack allegedly carried out by her husband. She said it happened because he was jealous of her academic achievements.

He denied the allegations, but was unable to face trial because he died in prison before the case went to court.

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.

“Domestic violence happens in all sections of the society and it is increasing. But very few women come forward to report these abuses because of the social stigma,” Odhikar spokeswoman Taskin Fahmina said.

A growing trend; on the rise. Why? Because of the growing trend of fiercer Islamism? Because fiercer Islamism is almost entirely about repressing and punishing women?


  1. Rudi says

    One thing I notice with these stories is that unlike (say) in the UK, where they will often manage to elicit some sort of words of sympathy/concern from a politician, this never seems to happen with the reports from Islamic countries. Now there could be any number of reasons for this, but it does appear as if the pressure on politicians to deal (properly) with these abuses simply isn’t there. Does anyone more informed than me have a take on this?

  2. Sunny says

    Allah is indeed merciful!

    Having a female prime minister and a female leader of the opposition has not made much of a difference for women in Bangladesh. Neither did it make a difference in Pakistan where Benazir Bhutto had no qualms compromising with the Islamists.

  3. says

    Rudi – the article said this case was so horrible that it did upset a lot of people – but in a way that just confirms your point: just ordinary bullying women out of education gets a pass then?

  4. Beauzeaux says

    Please — you don’t have to say “alleged.” This isn’t a court of law or the evening news.
    1. She has no fingers.
    2. She says her husband did it.

    Under the circumstances, I’ll take her word for it.

  5. says

    It’s not a court of law or the evening news but that doesn’t make it immune from libel suits. Seriously. Bloggers do get sued. If I see an “alleged” in a news item I’m commenting on, I include it. The parenthesis was meant to convey a certain irony, but still…

    And I know about 1 and 2 but the fact remains that he hasn’t been tried yet.

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