Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bangladeshi women’s rights activist languishing in jail on dubious charges

Sigma Huda, a Bangladeshi lawyer and women’s activist, was recently arrested and sentenced to prison by the country’s military-backed caretaker government in a vast anti-corruption sweep meant to stifle all political activity, according to the latest edition of World Magazine.

For many years Huda has worked with and for Bangladeshi women, particularly trafficked prostitutes. For her efforts, she was appointed to the role of special reporter on human trafficking by the U.N. in 2004.

After two months of trials, Huda was convicted of bribery and sentenced to three years in prison – her husband, Nazmul, will serve seven years. The article mentions that a U.N. observer reported that the verdict was the result of heavy intimidation.

According to the article, Janice Raymond, a board member of the International Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, says Huda’s prominent U.N. role probably scared the government. “The government has been agitated about her ability to criticize them in international forums,” Raymond said.

Family, friends, and Western colleagues are outraged that Huda is being accused of the same type of corruption she has fought so hard to prevent.

They are also extremely concerned for her health in prison. Huda suffers from diabetes, heart trouble, and kidney failure but has not received adequate medical care and her hospital jail cell is often without running water.

Rights groups are urging the international community to come to the aid of this human rights defender.

For the full article, click here.


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