The murder of a teenager in Bangladesh shook the country, and the world. It wasn’t just the brutality of the murder, but also the reasoning behind it. Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19, was doused with kerosene and set on fire on the roof of her Islamic school on April 6th, just days after filing a sexual harassment complaint. Headmaster Siraj Ud Doula, who was the person complained about, was one of the prime suspects. Fortunately, sixteen people, including Doula, have been charged with this vile murder.
According to a police statement, he ordered her murder from within prison after Rafi refused to withdraw her accusations against him. The preparations for the killing were described as being like a military plan with it’s detailed and precise steps. Her murder didn’t go ignored though. After news spread of what had happened, there were mass protests in Bangladesh really showed the vulnerability of victims of sexual assault and harassment in the country. Something needs to change so victims don’t feel scared to come forward.
Back in late March, Ms Rafi filed a police complaint against Mr Doula and he was subsequently arrested. Having thought the ordeal was over, she attended the school as usually on April 6th, to sit her final exams when she was apparently lured to the roof of the school and set alight by a group of people wearing burkas, which is one-piece veil that covers the face and body, hiding the identity of those involved. Police said the group had planned to make it look like a suicide. What they didn’t count on though was Ms Rafi, who had suffered burns to 80% of her body, being able to give a statement before she died of her injuries on 10 April in her hospital bed.
The complaint against the headmaster of the madrassa occurred on 27th March when the 19-year-old accused him of calling her into his office and repeatedly touching her in an inappropriate manner. She managed to escape before he had a chance to do anything else. The very same day, Nusrat and her family went to the police to give a formal statement. At the police station, she was filmed by the officer in charge as she described the ordeal. Despite being visibly distressed and trying to hide her face, the officer doesn’t seem to care and calls it “no big deal” while telling her to move her hands away from her face. It’s clear that not many people there care about young girls and their wellbeing.
The officer has since been charged with illegally recording her statement and sharing it online for others to see. Soon after Ms Rafi had filed her complaint, the madrassa’s headmaster was arrested. This triggered a large number of local protests in HIS favour, saying he should be released. It’s quite shocking, isn’t it?
The Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) chief, Banaj Kumar Majumder, released a statement and apparently, Mr Doula was visited in jail by a number of associates whom he instructed to intimidate Nusrat’s family until she withdrew the complaint. It was only after she refused this, he ordered her to be killed if it was necessary.
During a news conference, their plan was described in great detail including the purchase of kerosene, burkas, and gloves. Each and every person in the group had individual roles varying from guarding gates, guarding the building where Musrat was murdered, and even down to luring her to the roof by a fellow female pupil, who claimed one of her friends was being beaten up. Once on the roof, she was ordered to sign a blank piece of paper and withdraw her claims. When she denied, she was doused in kerosene and set alight. She was then left for dead.
This is a disgusting, vile act, all because she rightfully filed a complaint against someone of authority. If it wasn’t for her brave statement before she passed away, those sixteen people might not have been prosecuted to the extent of which they will be. Many people have demanded the death penalty, which is quite likely given the brutality of the murder.