Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19 at the time of her death, was murdered in April 2019 after refusing to withdraw a complaint of attempted rape against her school principal.
After insisting she would not withdraw the complaint, Jahan was lured to the roof of her madrasa and doused with kerosene. She was set on fire and killed.
On October 24, 16 people were sentenced to death because of their role in the murder, including Jahan’s principal, who police believe ordered the attack.
#BREAKING: All 16 accused including sacked madrasa principal Siraj Ud Doula and Awami League leader Ruhul Amin awarded death penalty for killing Feni’s madrasa student #nusratjahanrafi #Bangladesh https://t.co/Kc3Qmx8Gts— The Daily Star (@dailystarnews) October 24, 2019
Bangladesh court sentence 16 people to death in a case over the murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, the girl who was torched to death after protesting against sexual abuse. https://t.co/oTuDvo2blM— Ahmer Khan (@ahmermkhan) October 24, 2019
After the sentence had been passed, public prosecutor Hafez Ahmed commented:
“The judgment proves that no one is above the law.”
19-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi filed a sexual harassment complaint against her headmaster at a school in Bangladesh.— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) April 18, 2019
Two weeks later, she was lured to the roof of her school, where a group set her on firehttps://t.co/I4snUt5195
Nusrat Jahan Rafi who died after being set on fire was laid to eternal rest at her village home in Feni district of #Bangladesh . She was buried at their family graveyard following a namaz-e-janaza at Mohammad Saber Pilot High School ground around 5:50pm. #justicefornusrat pic.twitter.com/Ce123WRutC— Ali Ahmad Mabrur (@Mabrur00) April 11, 2019
Defense lawyers tried to claim that Jahan had committed suicide, but the jury did not believe them.
Giasuddin Nannu, a lawyer for the defense, says they will appeal the ruling in a higher court.
#Bangladesh has reached a point where an 18 year old young woman was drenched in petrol & set on fire in her school in broad daylight. Her crime was her unwillingness to withdraw a sexual harassment case against the school principal. Complete lawlessness. https://t.co/B8k09zUtOk— Sabria Balland (@sabriaballand) April 11, 2019
Jahan’s death inspired numerous protests as people called for justice.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina even visited her family and promised someone would pay for Jahan’s death.
Nusrat Jahan Rafi's family says she was burned to death after she refused to back down from a rape complaint – reportedly described as “no big deal” by police – against her own head teacher. Now @hrw want laws there changed (and you can see why) https://t.co/WHE6AoR11h— Narbeh Minassian (@nminassian) April 18, 2019
For Jahan’s family, however, the ordeal is far from over.
Her mother, Shirin Akhtar, told reporters after the sentence was passed:
“I can’t forget her for a moment. I still feel the pain that she went through.”
Jahan’s brother is seeking protection against further illegal retribution.
“We live in fear. We were threatened even today in the courtroom.”
Say spoke up. She was murdered. Say her name, say it loud. She is a hero. Nusrat Jahan Rafi: 16 sentenced to death for Bangladesh student's murder - CNN https://t.co/dMkwz4W2uP— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 24, 2019
16 people have been sentenced to death for setting a Bangladeshi student on fire and killing her after she accused her principal of sexual harassment, according to reports.— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) October 24, 2019
Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s case sparked outrage in April as people demanded justice pic.twitter.com/spKpA7L6h9
16 people have been sentenced to death for the murder of a student named #NusratJahanRafi who accused her headteacher of sexual harassment. #Bangladesh#NusratJahan#NusratMurderpic.twitter.com/e2OmxrTzT9— Sakibul Hoque 🇧🇩 (@SakibulHoque8) October 24, 2019
Bangladesh is currently in the midst of a dramatic rise in the reporting of rapes, with 217 in the month of September alone. Still many more go unreported due to women fearing for their own safety.
This ruling should send a message that the days when rapists could commit their crimes without consequences is ending.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We’re hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it when it goes live.
Here’s one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!