16 people sentenced to death for Bangladesh student’s murder

16 sentenced to death in Nusrat Jahan Rafi's murder: reports

16 sentenced to death in Bangladesh after student, 19, was burned alive

The ruling in southeast Bangladesh's Feni district, about 150 kilometres southeast from the capital Dhaka, comes six months after 19-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was killed. Two female classmates and two local leaders of her party were among those convicted.

Bangladeshi women hold placards and photographs of schoolgirl Nusrat Jahan Rafi at a protest in Dhaka April 12, 2019, following her murder by being set on fire after she reported a sexual assault. Even when survivors file a complaint, prosecution is very rare and takes years to conclude. "The judgment proves that no one is above the law", public prosecutor Hafez Ahmed told reporters after the court verdict.

Defence lawyers said they would appeal against Thursday's verdict in the high court. They drenched her in kerosene and set her on fire, Muzumdar said in May.

The culprits reportedly wanted to make her death look like a suicide, but she survived. Instead, she was managed to escape and get help.

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While on the way to hospital her brother filmed a video in which she explained what had happened and named some of her attackers. "I will fight this crime till my last breath".

She sustained burns to 80% of her body and died in hospital five days later on 10 April.

How widespread is sexual abuse in Bangladesh?

Activists say numerous women and children who report sexual violence in Bangladesh often suffer a backlash, and that successful prosecutions are rare.

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But speaking out like Nusrat is still uncommon as reporting sexual harassment can come with consequences.

Another problem is the country's ultra-conservative society, where a victim of sexual violence is often viewed as a person without honor and stigmatized by the community. They filmed her statement on a mobile phone - which was later leaked to the media.

File image of Bangladesh police.

The head of the Mahila Parishad, another women's rights group, gave a "guarded welcome" at the quick conclusion of the case, but said more needed to be done to ensure increased convictions for sexual harassment and rape cases. Prosecutors were calling for the death penalty.

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