Bangladeshi Girl Burnt Alive after Complaining about Attempted Rape

Nusrat Rafi, 18, who studied at the Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrassa in the Chittagong division of southeastern Bangladesh, was attacked and beaten by a group of male students clad in black burkas at the school’s rooftop premise and then set on fire after being doused with kerosene.

Her hands and feet’s were tied down including her mouth muffled but the raging fire burning in her body burned them in moments and she was able to free herself then jump up and run downstairs (while still on fire) crying for help. The other students at the premise tried to extinguish the fire using sand and door mats as Bangladesh schools cannot afford fire extinguishers due to poor budget. Nusrat had already suffered 80% burn on her body by the time the fire was put out completely.

The attack occurred after she and her family filed a complaint with police about alleged sexual misconduct by the school’s principal, identified as Siraj-ud-Daula.

Nusrat was set on fire by four burqa-clad unidentified assailants on the rooftop of the madrasa on April 6 after she refused to withdraw the attempted rape case against Siraj-ud-daula.

She died on Wednesday at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, after battling to survive the 80% burn injuries since last Saturday. The Prime ministers office of Bangladesh was requested by her family to send her to Singapore for better treatment but since the girl was a “nobody” (not a political figure or a wealthy person) the request was ‘skillfully’ (allegedly some government officials asked the doctor’s treating her to lie about her condition: that is her condition is too critical to be transported by air) denied by the government.

A video has recently surfaced of Nusrat going to the local police station and filing a complaint (of attempted rape) with the OC in charge. The following are extracts from that video which was found on Facebook. The five-minute-eleven-second-long video clip started in the middle of the conversation between OC Moazzem and Nusrat where she was asked to describe what happened with her. The girl broke into tears while talking and seeking police action.

Nusrat’s complaints (narration of the video follows)

In her first year, she said, the principal had summoned her to his office. Sirajuddaula had asked her to uncover her face after Nusrat, who was wearing burqa and niqab, went to his room.

Nusrat said it was not the first time the principal had tried to sexually harass her.

“I refused. Then he said he liked me. I was surprised to hear that. I told him, ‘What are you saying? You are like my father, you are my teacher. I felt really bad,” Nusrat, who was sitting for the ongoing Alim examinations before her death, said in the clip.

Even after that incident, Nusrat told the OC, Sirajuddaula had her come to his office room several other times and approached with ill intention when she was an 11th grader. She said she had notified her teachers about that problem, but they asked her to keep mum.

The principal had sent an office assistant named Nur Alam to Nusrat’s class on March 26, when the students were busy with an Independence Day program, and had him take her to his office. Nusrat brought along several of her female classmates, but they were not allowed to enter the room.

When Nur was called inside after some time, he said he found the girl sitting on the floor. Nusrat broke down to tears after he brought her out to her friends waiting outside.

Several days before, some unidentified youths had also assaulted Nusrat and spread a rumour that she was beaten because she was in a romantic relationship with someone.

Principal Sirajuddaula apparently used that opportunity and threatened to take action against her for being involved romantically with someone despite being a madrasa student. He also used the chance to propose her to have an illicit affair. But Nusrat refused again.

‘I will live and punish him’

Meanwhile, police have found a letter Nusrat wrote on her class notebook, before she was attacked and set on fire, describing how the principal sexually assaulted her and how her classmates’ attendance in a program demanding Sirajuddaula’s release from jail had hurt her.

The letter were collected from her home at Uttar Charchandia as evidence on Wednesday in the case filed over the attack, said Sonagazi police OC (Investigation) Kamal Hossain.

The letter was apparently written in three pages, but one of them was found missing.

Nusrat, in the letter addressed to two of her friends, wrote that Principal Siraj-ud-daula wanted to have sex with her saying he would give her the question papers for the Alim exams.

However, she wrote: “I will fight till my last breath. I made a mistake by trying to kill myself first, but I won’t do that again. Killing myself will mean I lost. I won’t die, I will live. I will punish him [Siraj-ud-daula].

“I will punish the one who hurt me in a way that others will learn a lesson. God willing, I will give him the maximum punishment possible.”

Nusrat also wrote how she was hurt by the obscene comments made by her friends after she survived Siraj-ud-daula’s sexual assault.

The Brother as witness

Mahmudul Hasan, the victim’s brother, said he had accompanied his sister to the school on Saturday morning to take exams, when a burka-clad person told Rafi that her friend was being beaten on the building’s roof.

Once there, she was accosted by four others wearing burkas who told her to drop sexual assault charges against the madrassa principal, Hasan said. The suspects then doused her with kerosene, he said.

Hasan rushed Rafi to a local hospital, before she was transferred to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital as her condition deteriorated. Hasan said she told him about the people who set her on fire and about the sexual assault, adding that her complaint against the principal was genuine and she refused to drop it.

He said he taped a statement from his sibling, which can also be heard on social media.

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