Wipe out an entire culture? You bet.

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Bangladeshi Man Sentenced to Death in Acid Attack on Wife

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A Bangladeshi court sentenced a man to death by hanging for hurling acid on his 9-year-old wife, leaving her partially deaf and blind, one of her lawyers said Tuesday.

The accused, Swapan Gazi, poured a glass of acid on the girl's face and head after she refused to leave her parents' house for his, lawyer Salma Ali said.

The attack happened in 1998 at a slum in the industrial town of Tongi (search) in Gazipur (search) district, 20 miles north of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka (search). A legal aid and human rights group run by women lawyers took up the girl's case.

The Gazipur court also ordered him to pay $900 in damages to the victim.

"This ruling will help deter others who commit such crimes," Salma Ali of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (search).

The accused had pleaded innocent. His lawyers plan to appeal the verdict in a higher court.

Gazi, in his twenties, forced the third grader into marrying him without her parents consent, in 1998. The girl's father, a poor rickshaw puller, refused to let her set up housekeeping with Gazi, saying she could not leave her family until she came of age.

Marriages of girls under 18 — and men under 21 — are illegal under Bangladesh's secular laws. But underage marriages are deemed valid under religious laws in the Muslim-majority country.

Most births go unregistered in Bangladesh, and poor parents often flout the law and marry off their underage children, falsifying their ages.

A month after their marriage, Gazi went to the girl's house and insisted that she come away with him. He threw acid on her when she refused. Neighbors who heard her cries caught Gazi and turned him in to police.

She received treatment in Dhaka, and later in Spain, for severe acid burns on her scalp, face and throat. She lost an eye and hearing on her left side.

Her parents left Tongi soon after the attack. Now 14, the girl is back in school, in the seventh grade, Ali said.

The trial took nearly five years to complete; Bangladeshi courts are often swamped with cases and long delays in hearings are common.

In 2002, at least 315 women and girls in Bangladesh were victims of acid attacks, usually committed by jilted lovers or angry husbands seeking revenge.

Now, when I say I'm in favour of wiping out entire cultures, I do not say entire races or nations. I say "cultures". I am not in favour of killing all the people in that country. I am in favour of destroying the culture which is entrenched in that country, a culture which allows a man to marry a 9-year-old girl and then mutilate her. I am in favour of a massive multi-national military force moving in, burning every book of religion, law, and so on, and establishing (and enforcing) a fair social and legal system in which such crimes would be less likely to happen. Bring on the guns. Destroy that culture. Force them to accept a new way of life.

Would that be stepping on their right to self-determination? Yep. But that guy stepped on that young girl's rights to self-determination. My way protects the kids, at least, from a completely unjust society.
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Oh my God. Your ideas horrify me. How many innocents would die just so you would feel better thinking that "bad things" aren't happening in the world? How many people would you have to slaughter until you made everyone conform to your way of living?

I'm not supporting the man. I am saying that you have no right to decide who gets to live or die. Why do you get to decide what's right? Where does it end? What cultures do we destroy?

Your quest reminds me of another man's quest, but I haven't read everything he's had to say because I'm not so good at translating German.

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