A Bangladesh Student Was Set On Fire For Reporting Sexual Harassment

Nusrat Jahan Rafi died after being set on fire for reporting her headmaster for sexual harassment. Several people were arrested in connection with the attack

A Bangladesh Student Was Set On Fire For Reporting Sexual Harassment

Nusrat was a 19-year-old from Feni, a small town 100 miles south of Dhaka, who was studying at a madrassa, or Islamic school. On 27 March she stated that the school’s headmaster called her into his office and touched her in an inappropriate manner but she ran out before things got any further. She then went to the police to seek assistance and filled sexual assault charges against the headmaster.

But even though the police arrested the headmaster after the accusations, they filmed her confession and illegally released it to the local media instead of protecting her privacy and making sure she will not be hurt. After that, things got even worse for her, a protest has been arranged by two male students and local politicians for the release of the headmaster who went on to instigate his followers into attacking Nusrat.

Knowing that for a girl in her position to report sexual harassment might come with consequences, she stopped going to school, but on 6 April she was supposed to take her final exams so she went. At school, four or five people wearing burqas lured her on the rooftop of the school and pressured her to withdraw the charges against the headmaster but when she refused they doused her with kerosene and set her on fire. The young girl died five days later at Dhaka Medical College Hospital after fighting for her life from 80% burn injuries.

Her courage in speaking out against sexual assault and her death after being set on fire has shocked Bangladesh and has caught worldwide attention and brought awareness on the vulnerability of sexual harassment victims in the country. Thousands of people turned out for her funeral in Feni, while police have arrested fifteen people since then – seven of them allegedly involved in the murder. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Nusrat’s family in Dhaka and promised them: “None of the culprits will be spared from legal action.”