Man lops of his wife’s fingers as punishment for becoming educated.

Rafiqul Islam had a problem: his wife was pursuing a degree without his permission.  He’d told her to stop with all the learning but dagnabbit the woman just wouldn’t do as she was told.

Rafiqul Islam, 30, blindfolded his wife Hawa Akhter, 21, and taped her mouth, telling her he was going to give her a surprise present.

Instead he made her hold out her hand and cut off all five fingers. One of his relatives then threw Ms Akhter’s fingers in the dustbin to ensure doctors could not reattach them.

Mr Islam, who is a migrant worker in the United Arab Emirates, had warned his wife there would ‘severe consequences’ if she did not give up her studies.

I guess I’ll just trot out the obvious: somehow, this man came to the conclusion that learning was a greater crime than lying (he wasn’t really going to give her gifts) or amputating the fingers of your loved one against their will.  Sins?  No, no…the sin was refusing to stay ignorant at her husband’s demand.  He was just administering justice (kind of like how god does for non-crimes like putting in an honest day’s work on the wrong day).

This whole concept is so strange to me.  Probably the biggest reason I so love Michaelyn is because of her mind (we often say “I love you with all of my brain” to one another).  She teaches me new things on a daily basis which I not only find to be incredibly sexy, but it shows me that I’m dating a person I admire.  When someone you admire loves you, it makes you feel all kinds of good about yourself.  I have no idea why someone would want to marry someone they’d want to control, or why they’d want to keep the person they love from learning.  How much is affection or love worth when it’s forced or coerced?

One can only wonder where a person like Rafiqul Islam could learn that a woman should be less educated (or even uneducated), that improved intellect in a person he claims to love is a bad thing, that he had a right to make such demands of his spouse and to punish her like a child if she refused to stop bettering herself to placate him.  We’re left to strain to find what could make a man think that acquiring knowledge was a greater crime than dishonesty or bloodshed.

I wonder if there are any hints available…perhaps in Rafiqul’s last name…

And the only thing that makes Rafiqul an isolated case (that will be the argument, right – that I’m cherry-picking?) is that he lopped off her fingers.  I’ve read plenty of stories about other punishments like acid in the face.  Outright killing is the most common.  The framework for this mindset is contained in the holy books of faiths like Christianity and Islam.  It creates the type of anti-woman sentiment that puts the man at the head of the household – not for what’s between his ears, but for what’s between his legs.  And if women go getting too educated it might disrupt that power structure.

What’s more, the Islamic sections of the world are largely the most ignorant in all the world.  As Sam Harris said, there’s a reason their most effective attack in history was orchestrated with box cutters.  With heightened ignorance comes all manner of woes absent from developed, educated nations.  Nobody, to my eye, can sufficiently dispute that Islam and the cultural fear of any fact that may contradict the faith is responsible for this.

The manufactured and artificial fears handed to us by religion are not good for society.  And all the cases where someone defers to their compassion instead of to the barbarities of their holy books, all while still calling themselves a Muslim or a Catholic or what have you, doesn’t absolve those faiths when stuff like this happens.

Also, to make the point that this is not an isolated problem, from the same article:

The attack is the latest in a series of acts targeting educated women in the Muslim-majority company.

In June, an unemployed man gouged out the eyes of his wife, an assistant professor at Dhaka University, apparently because he could not stand her pursuing higher studies at a Canadian University.

If there is a silver lining to this story, it’s that Hawa Akhter, Islam’s wife (I wish I could say ex-wife, but divorce in that culture is often worse than education as far as sins go), is going to continue to pursue her degree anyway.

‘He was enraged. He was jealous because while he only had a grade eight standard education, she was off to college to pursue higher studies,’ said Mr Saluddin.

Ms Akhter says she is learning to write with her left hand and is determined to resume her studies. She is now back at her parent’s house.

Good for her.  Might I recommend doing it somewhere else as far away from her husband as possible.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • baal

    While it’s clear a number of factors combine to this horrific outcome, I wonder if it’s necessarily only Islam (which doesn’t seem to be helping) vs cultural norms vs patriarchy vs lack of an effective judiciary or if the base issue is really one of once you have a theocracy (of any religion or just the monotheistic ones?), the failed sex relations and failed governance will happen as a matter of course.

    • invivoMark

      Islam provides the institutionalized sexism that keeps the culture and government alive. Islam may not be totally to blame, but it sure as hell contributed.

    • Azkyroth

      Given that Islam is the foundation and go-to excuse for all of those things….

      PS: you left out “people falling all over themselves to blame anything but Islam for the problems it causes.”

      • baal

        I deny the charge that I’m working extra hard to find anything but Islam as the source of the problem. Especially in complex and abstract systems, there are multiple factors of different weights. Seeking sole causes means you will over look effective counter strategies based on the the factors.

    • CottonBlimp

      I think in any instance where you care more about your fantasies than the real world will lead to problems of this nature.

  • Silent Service

    Every day I am thankful to have not been born into a society of ignorant fuckwhits. Then, I read the news and cry because I was born on a planet full of ignorant fuckwhits.

  • Jasper

    Infuriating. “Nuke them from orbit” comes to mind, if I wasn’t so civil.

    • JTEberhard

      It’s the only way to be sure…

  • Makoto

    Two things come to mind reading this horrible story.
    1) You and Michaelyn are amazing, and I’m so glad you’re together.

    2) Hawa, the woman from the story, is also amazing. I just hope, as you do, that she can get far away from her husband. I fear for her safety in the years ahead, unfortunately.

  • Zinc Avenger

    Mrs Avenger is a continual inspiration for me, and I become a better “me” through my efforts to learn from her example, and she says the same about me.

    I find it hard to imagine anyone wanting to marry someone they don’t admire. Perhaps it is that religion tells people that a healthy relationship involves a completely one-sided power imbalance – Husband is to wife as God is to human. But that’s pure speculation on my part.

  • gimpi1

    Beyond grotesque. Here’s a thought, uneducated, jealous angry Muslim husbands of the world: Get an education! Stop attacking your educated, intelligent wives and fix yourselves.

    Religious mania, anger, ego, and domination. A dangerous and savage mix.

  • EvolutionKills

    When random people on the internet in other countries care more for and have more empathy for your wife than you do, you have failed as a human being…