Student Set on Fire After Reporting Sex Harassment

Police negligence alleged in Bangladeshi case
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2019 12:08 PM CDT
She Reported Harassment —and Was Burned Alive
Protesters gather to demand justice for a woman killed for refusing to drop sexual harassment charges against her school's principal in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

"The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime 'til my last breath," Nusrat Jahan Rafi spoke into a cellphone as she was taken to a Bangladeshi hospital with burns covering 80% of her body. She would die four days later, and now her case has gained international attention. In late March, Nusrat told police the headmaster of her school in the small town of Feni had called her into his office and touched her inappropriately, reports the BBC. He was arrested, but a police video of Nusrat making her complaint surfaced, and soon she became a target of harassment. When she returned to school for her final exams on April 6, authorities say a female student lured her to the roof on a false pretext. There, a small group confronted Nusrat and demanded she clear the headmaster. When she refused, they set her on fire, per the Guardian.

"None of the culprits will be spared from legal action," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says, per the BBC, which notes 15 people have been arrested along with the headmaster. The Dhaka Tribune reports he had a known "history of condemnable behavior." In the police video, Nusrat, who was 18 or 19, can be seen trying to keep her face covered as the officer orders her to remove her hands from her face and tells her the allegation is "no big deal." The case "shows how badly the Bangladesh government has failed victims of sexual assault," a rep for Human Rights Watch says, per Sky News. "It leads the victim to give up on seeking justice," a human rights lawyer adds. (Gay people aren't safe in Bangladesh, either.)

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