Sufia Begum, Bangladesh Woman, Caned To Death Over Stepson 'Affair'

Two Bangladeshis -- including a Muslim cleric -- have been arrested after a local woman who had been caned for allegedly having an extramarital affair with her 36-year-old stepson died, the BBC is reporting.

Fifty-year-old Sufia Begum had been sentenced to 40 lashes for adultery under Sharia law by a group of village elders and clerics. Her family says she died of injuries almost a month after her Nov. 12 beating in Bangladesh's Rajshahi district. According to the AFP, Begum's death violated a ban on such punishments in the name of religious edicts or fatwas by the High Court.

"Village elders tied 10 canes together and beat her legs," police chief Azizul Haq Sarker is quoted by the AFP as saying. "She became seriously ill and was hospitalized after the caning, and she died last week," Sarker said, adding that police launched an investigation into the case following a complaint from Taimur Rahman, Begum's brother. The woman who carried out the beating for the elders has also been arrested.

Rahman claims that Begum's kidneys had been damaged during the beating, and her family was unable to raise money for her medical treatment in Dhaka, according to Herald News.

At present, an estimated 90 percent of Bangladesh's 146 million residents are Muslims, and many rights groups say that it is common for women to be publicly whipped for crimes such as adultery despite the ban. In one of the most notorious cases, a 16-year-old girl who had been raped was given 101 lashes in January for conceiving during the assault, though the rapist was pardoned, according to the Herald.