Bangladesh Teen Burned to Death for Reporting Sexual Harassment

Her death after suffering 80 percent burns has triggered nationwide protests in the Bangladesh.

2 min read

A teenage school girl in Bangladesh was allegedly burnt to death by her principal for reporting a sexual harassment case against him, triggering nationwide protests in the country, reported PTI.

Eighteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was set on fire at the Islamic seminary she attended on 6 April by four burqa-clad assailants, just a few days after she complained against the principal Siraj-ud-Daula for inappropriately touching her after calling her into his office.

She was lured to the terrace of the school, where her attackers asked her to withdraw the complaint she had filed with the police. When she refused, she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, reported AFP.

Rafi suffered 80 percent burns and succumbed to her injuries on 10 April. However, she recorded a video before her death, accusing the principal and identifying her attackers, the report said.

"The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath," she said in the video.

Rafi had reported the sexual harassment incident in late March.

Principal Ordered Attack

Siraj is one of the 17 people arrested in connection with the case, after one of them told the police that he had ordered the attack, the report said.

The teacher "told them to put pressure on Rafi to withdraw the case or kill her if she refused", senior police superintendent Mohammad Iqbal, who is leading the investigation, told AFP.

Iqbal said three of Rafi’s classmates were part of the attack and that they had tied her up with a scarf before setting her on fire.

Her death led to protests across Bangladesh with people on Thursday forming human chains and holding demonstrations seeking justice for the victim, PTI reported.

The demonstration sought stern punishment for the victim's murderers and expressed condolences to her bereaved family, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Possible Negligence on Part of Police

Deputy Inspector General Ruhul Amin, who is heading the probe committee, said the investigation will take several more days to wrap up as investigators are examining various documents.

He said Siraj had a history of condemnable behaviour that was known to the madrasa governing body. Amin also also hinted at involvement of political leaders in the murder.

The police is also investigating whether there has been negligence on the part of police while investigating the murder case.

In a leaked video of Rafi registering her complaint, the local police station chief can be seen dismissing it as “not a big deal”, reported AFP.

We have found preliminary evidence against the former officer-in-charge of Sonagazi police station and senior police officers. We are taking this very seriously and are looking into it,” he said.

But, had the local administration and madrasa managing committee taken action when the sexual harassment was first reported, this tragedy could have been avoided, he added.

(With inputs from PTI and AFP.)

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