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  • Bangladesh charged 16 people for murdering teenage girl.

    Bangladesh charged 16 people for murdering teenage girl. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 May 2019

Bangladesh charged 16 people for lighting a young woman on fire who complained of sexual harassment by her teacher. She later died in the hospital. 

Bangladesh police charged 16 people for the murder of a female teenager burned to death last month after she registered a complaint against her teacher for sexually abusing her. 

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Nusrat Jahan Rafi was 18 when her killers—classmates—poured kerosene over her and set the young woman on on fire on the roof of their school after Rafi refused to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against the institution's head teacher.

The other students learned about the charge after the police leaked a video of the female student in the police station registering the complaint. 

The school headmaster was also charged in her death. Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) lead investigator Mohammad Iqbal said that Siraj Ud Doula, the head teacher ordered her death from prison where he was being held after being charged.

She died in the hospital five days after being attacked, sparking public outrage and mass demonstrations calling for her killers to face punishment. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Rafi's family to assure them the killers would not be spared.

"I lost my only daughter. She was an innocent girl who raised her voice against injustice and died brutally because of that. Now I want justice for her," AKM Musa Manik, Rafi's father, told Al Jazeera.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for all 16 perpetrators.

"They are charged under the women and children repression law and we'll recommend the death penalty for all 16 accused," Iqbal said.

Rafi’s brother Mahmudul Hasan Noman said that the case should be fast-tracked.

"In Bangladesh, legal tangles delay many cases. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said no one involved in the murder will be spared. So I hope it will be a fast-track trial and we will get justice," he said.

The head of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, a women’s rights organization, said more needs to be done to ensure women's safety in the country.

A study conducted by the group found that about 950 women were raped in Bangladesh last year.

“Justice has to be ensured,” said the group’s general secretary Maleka Banu. “(But) just ensuring that the Nusrat case is taken care of is not enough. We need to do a lot more to make the situation better for Bangladeshi women.”

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