Police Want Death Penalty For 16 People Over Woman Burned Alive


Bangladeshi police are charging 16 people with the murder of a 19-year-old woman, after she was tied up with a scarf and set on fire last month, with a leading officer calling for the death penalty for all involved.

Widespread protests broke out in April after teenager Nusrat Jahan Rafi was killed, after she had been lured onto a rooftop, doused in kerosene and set alight. She died five days after the attack.

The prime minister of Bangladesh promised to prosecute all involved, with one of the alleged perpetrators reportedly a head teacher of an Islamic seminary.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi. Image: Family Handout

Before the attack, the assailants demanded Rafi back down on a sexual harassment complaint which she filed against the headteacher to police in March.

The teenager later shared a video revealing an officer registering the report but brushing it off as “not a big deal”.

READ MORE: How Young Is Too Young To Teach Kids About Sexual Assault?

READ MORE: #WhyIDidntReport: Sexual Assault Survivors Share Their Stories

The Police Bureau of Investigation said it would file charges on Wednesday against 16 people, including two women.

"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.

According to Iqbal, Siraj Ud Doula, the headmaster of Rafi's school Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa, ordered her murder from his prison cell.

Protestors returned to the streets, but this time to demand justice for Rafi. Image: Getty Images

Iqbal said at least five people tied Rafi up with the scarf and that there was a plan to frame the incident as a suicide.

Rafi sustained burns to 80 percent of her body after the attack. She died in hospital, on 10 April.

Before her death, she repeated her allegations against the principal of the seminary in a final video.

Relatives of Nusrat Jahan Rafi at her funeral. Images: Getty Images

The incident has drawn light on the alarming issue of violence against women in Bangladesh.

According to last year's annual report from women's rights group, Mahila Parishad, almost 4,000 incidents of violence against women occurred in 2018, with murder and rape topping the list.

Contact Eden on Twitter @edengillespie