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Girl burned to death for reporting sexual harassment in Bangladesh

A 19 year girl was burnt to death at her school in Bangladesh after she had filed a sexual harassment complain against her headmaster.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi was doused with kerosene and set on fire at her school in Bangladesh.

Nusrat, who was 19, was from Feni, a small town 100 miles (160km) south of Dhaka.

According to BBC she was studying at a madrassa. On 27 March, she said the headmaster called her into his office and repeatedly touched her in an inappropriate manner. Before things could go any further she ran out.

Many girls and young women in Bangladesh choose to keep their experiences of sexual harassment or abuse secret for fear of being shamed by society or their families. What made Nusrat Jahan different is that she didn’t just speak out – she went to the police with the help of her family on the day the alleged abuse happened.

At the local police station she gave a statement. She should have been provided with a safe environment to recall her traumatic experiences. Instead she was filmed by the officer in charge on his phone as she described the ordeal.

In the video Nusrat is visibly distressed and tries to hide her face with her hands. The policeman is heard calling the complaint “no big deal” and telling her to move her hands from her face. The video was later leaked to local media.

According to a statement given by Nusrat, a fellow female student took her to the roof of the school, saying one of her friends was being beaten up. When Nusrat reached the rooftop four or five people, wearing burqas, surrounded her and allegedly pressured her to withdraw the case against the headmaster. When she refused, they set her on fire.

Police Bureau of Investigation chief Banaj Kumar Majumder said the killers wanted “to make it look like a suicide”. Their plan failed when Nusrat was rescued after they fled the scene. She was able to give a statement before she died.

“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,” Mr Majumder told BBC Bengali.

“The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath,” you can hear her say.

She also identified some of her attackers as students at the madrassa.

Courtesy BBC

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