The Cry For Justice Ignored Due To Substandard Laws In Place
Nusrat Jahan Rafi was an 18-year-old student in Bangladesh who accused her principal of sexual harassment and was burned alive for it. Nusrat studied at an Islamic school in Feni, Bangladesh. She was called in by Siraj Ud Dala (The Principal) where she reported that he repeatedly touched her inappropriately until she was finally able to get away.
After the assault, she went to the police to give an account of what happened to her. Officer Moazzem to whom she reported the harassment took a video of her describing the crime without her knowledge and posted it online. Officer Moazzem then tells her that these accusations are “nothing major”. Even after she told him that this was not the only time that Siraj had made unwanted advances towards her.
The Aftermath Of The Allegations
A few days after the video was posted a few of Siraj’s supporters attacked Nursat. Siraj is also accused of encouraging his supporters to do so. Four of these supporters took her to the top of the administrative building and asked her to take back the allegations. After she refused to do so they set her on fire.
She was admitted in the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. It was discovered that 80 percent of her body had severe burns. After spending four days hospitalized she died in the hospital. It was later reported that 15 people have been arrested in this case including Siraj. There are chances that Officer Moazzem is going to be sued for violating the Digital Security Act for posting the video of Nusrat without her consent.
The Reaction To Nusrat’s Death
Thousands of people attended Nusrat’s funeral in the wake of her passing. Multiple protests have been held all over the country demanding justice and laws to change in regards to sexual assault within the country.
Several organizations are also stepping in and asking for justice. The Human Rights Campaign has called for a full investigation in this case. Transparency International Bangladesh has also released a statement asking for Officer Moazzem to be specifically investigated by the Department of Justice.
The History Of Sexual Assault Cases In Bangladesh
Bangladesh has had about 732 reported cases of rape in 2018, And the number might be higher. Of these cases, only 500 have been filed. In Bangladesh, there is also a clause in the Evidence Act of 1872 that states: “When a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character.”
Historically, Bangladesh has a culture of victim blaming. The act of punishing the assaulter is neglected. Instead, they tend to blame the victim. This culture of blaming the assaulted has discouraged people from reporting the crime.
In the end, we can only hope that the Government takes the death of Nusrat as a wake-up call. It’s high time to make laws harsher on sexual assaulter’s and build a Bangladesh that is safer to reside in.