19-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was burned to death for filing a sexual harassment claim against her headmaster at her madrassa(Islamic school) in Bangladesh. The student was taking her final exams in school when a fellow female student lured her to the roof. Rafi was met by five people who told her to take back her claim against the headmaster. She refused and that’s when they set her on fire, reports BBC. She died less than a week later, but not before she told police what happened. Her death has sparked outrage and protests in Bangladesh.
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Nusrat Jahan Rafi, an 18-year-old student studying at an Islamic school, in Feni, Bangladesh, went to the police on March 27 to file a report against her principal for allegedly sexually harassing her. Eleven days later, she went to school to take her exams but was tricked into going to the rooftop of a school building, where at least four unidentified people set her on fire after she refused to listen to their demands for her to withdraw her complaint against the principal. For the full story, click the link in bio 👆 (📷: Facebook, Getty) – #justicefornusrat #woman #women #girl #girls #sexualharassment #gender #genderviolence #violence #femicide #violenceagainstwomen #feminism #equality #equalrights #womensrights #islam #muslim #hijab #hijabi #madrasa #metoo #timesup #consent #justice #feni #bangladesh #bangladeshi
On March 27, Rafi went to the police to file a report against her headmaster. She told the police that Maulana Siraj Ud Doula had repeatedly sexually harassed her and touched her inappropriately. Instead of giving her a safe space, the officers recorded her without her consent and minimized her ordeal. It’s “no big deal,” they said. “Move your hands from the face, stop crying, nothing happened that you have to cry.” The officers would later post the video on social media. In the video, she is clearly upset and shaken.
The police arrested the headmaster the same day she filed her complaint. However, when word got out about her complaint against her headmaster, a protest organized by two male students broke out in front of the police station. They demanded that Ud Doula be released. Politicians and ruling party members backed the principal. This escalated into death threats against Rafi and her family.
On April 6, Nusrat Jahan Rafi attended her finals at her school even though her safety was compromised. At the school, a fellow student told her that her friend was being beaten up on the roof. When she got there, four to five students in burquas told her to withdraw her complaint. When she refused, the suspects doused her in kerosene and set her on fire. The suspects fled the scene and Rafi ran downstairs screaming for help still on fire.
During the ambulance ride to the hospital, fearing that she would die, she recorded herself on her brother’s smartphone. “The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath,” she said. She also identified some of her attackers.
Rafi was burned around 80% of her body but her head was left unscathed. “One of the killers was holding her head down with his hands, so kerosene wasn’t poured there and that’s why her head wasn’t burned,” Police Bureau chief Banaj Kumar Majumder said. He also noted that they tried “to make it look like a suicide” but Rafi survived and gave a statement naming some students at her school before she died.
— Ahmadullah Siddiki (@ahmadsiddiki_99) April 11, 2019
Four days after she was burned alive, on April 10, she passed away from her injuries. Thousands of people attended Rafi’s funeral services.
Nusrat Jahan Rafi who died after being set on fire was laid to eternal rest at her village home in Feni district of #Bangladesh . She was buried at their family graveyard following a namaz-e-janaza at Mohammad Saber Pilot High School ground around 5:50pm. #justicefornusrat pic.twitter.com/Ce123WRutC
— Ali Ahmad Mabrur (@Mabrur00) April 11, 2019
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh vowed those who were responsible for Rafi’s death would be punished.
The death of Nusrat Jahan Rafi has sparked anger and protests all over Bangladesh. The protestors are raising awareness of the dire situation the women face in the country. Protestors want better protection for women who come forward to report sexual abuse. The conservative country usually turns a blind eye to these victims or threats of retaliation takes place against these women. “When a woman tries to get justice for sexual harassment, she has to face a lot of harassment again,” Salma Ali, a human rights lawyer told BBC. “The case lingers for years, there is shaming in society, a lack of willingness from police to properly investigate the allegations.
“It leads the victim to give up on seeking justice. Ultimately the criminals don’t get punished and they do the same crime again. Others don’t fear to do the same because of such examples.”
According to the police, more than 17 people have been arrested in connection to the crime against Nusrat Jahan Rafi. According to the Washington Post, two men have allegedly confessed to planning the attack on the orders of Ud Doula.
Total of 18 people were as arrested for their alleged involvement in murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi. pic.twitter.com/5Y62EKIwH2
— Rayees Emad🐸 (@mdrafi2018) April 18, 2019