Bangladesh to charge 16 with murder of woman, 19, burned to death

Agence France Presse -  Among accused is headteacher of Islamic seminary attended by victim Nusrat Jahan Rafi

Bangladeshi police are set to charge 16 people, including the headteacher of an Islamic seminary, with the murder of a 19-year-old woman who was burned to death.

The killing of Nusrat Jahan Rafi last month prompted protests across Bangladesh, with the prime minister promising to prosecute all those involved.

Rafi was lured to the rooftop of the Islamic seminary she attended in her hometown of Feni, where her attackers asked her to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint filed with police against the headteacher.

When she refused, she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. She died five days later. Her death highlighted an alarming rise in sexual harassment cases in the country.

The Police Bureau of Investigation said it would file the chargesheet in a court in the south of the country on Wednesday against 16 people, including two women in the same class as Rafi. “They are charged under the women and children repression law and we will recommend the death penalty for all 16 accused,” said the PBI’s lead investigator, Mohammad Iqbal.

Bangladeshi teenager set on fire after accusing teacher of harassment 
Read moreIqbal said that Siraj Ud Doula, the head of the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa, where Rafi was a student, ordered the murder from jail.

Rafi had gone to police in late March to report the alleged sexual harassment against the teacher and a leaked video shows the local police station chief registering her complaint but dismissing it as “not a big deal”.

Iqbal said at least five people had tied her up with a scarf before setting her on fire. The plan was to pass the incident off as suicide.

Rafi suffered burns to 80% of her body and died in hospital on 10 April. She recorded a video before her death, repeating her allegations against the principal of the seminary.

Rafi’s brother, Mahmudul Hasan Noman, said they wanted a fast-track trial. “We want all the culprits to be hanged to death,” he said.

The head of Mahila Parishad, a women’s rights group, gave a guarded welcome to the quick investigation but said more needed to be done to end a “culture of impunity” over sexual harassment and rape cases. “Very few rape cases end in convictions,” she said.

According to the group, about 950 women were raped in Bangladesh last year. 


Agence France-Presse, 01/06/2019