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Woman In Bangladesh Set On Fire For Reporting Sexual Harassment By School Principal

April 19, 2019

A 19-year-old woman was intentionally burned to death in Bangladesh after she refused to retract accusations that her school’s principal had been sexually harassing her, Al Jazeera is reporting.

The April 10 murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, described in the report as “a disgrace to humanity,” was allegedly carried out by as many as 17 of Rafi’s schoolmates, all male, who tied her up, doused in kerosene and set her afire because she would not “withdraw the sexual harassment complaint she had filed with police” against her school principal.

Al Jazeera also reports that Bangladesh police have evidence the actions of the young men who killed Rafi were ordered by the accused headmaster himself.

Senior police superintendent Mohammad Iqbal is said to have told Agence France-Presse that the principal “told them to put pressure on Rafi to withdraw the case or kill her if she refused,” Al Jazeera reports.

According to reports, Rafi was “lured to the rooftop” of the Islamic school she attended where her hands and feet were bound with a scarf. She was then set afire.

Despite the brutality of her attack, Rafi managed to remove herself from the rooftop and make it to the ground floor.

“The plan was to pass the incident off as a suicide. But it fell through after Rafi managed to come downstairs while on fire because the scarf burned and freed her hands and feet,” Iqbal told reporters.

Rafi was then able to identify her attackers by name, which she recorded in a video she made on a cell phone while riding in an ambulance to a Bangledesh hospital, where she later died. She had burns over 80 percent of her body, Al Jazeera reports.

“The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath,” she said in the cell phone video.

It is also reported that two men have so far confessed to the crime, with one of the men admitting he was upset with Rafi for resisting his own sexual advances in the past.

Rafi’s story began in March, when she went to police to complain about the principal’s actions. According to Al Jazeera, a leaked video of her interview by police shows the local police chief telling the sobbing Rafi that her experience was “no big deal” and that she should not be crying over something so insignificant.

Rafi’s murder, according to reports, has led to protests throughout Bangladesh. Meanwhile, human rights groups are also honoring Rafi’s bravery.

Al Jazeera further reports that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed that “none of the culprits will be spared legal action”.