Anger sweeps Bangladesh after 18-year-old set on fire for reporting sexual abuse

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The killing of an 18-year-old girl for allegedly reporting sexual harassment by her principal sparked massive outrage in Bangladesh. Protests are being held in several parts of the country demanding justice.

An 18-year-old Bangladeshi student studying in a madrasa, was set on fire for complaining about being sexual harassed by the school’s principal. The victim went to the police on March 27 to file a report against her principal Maulana Siraj Ud Doula and alleged that he used to called her into his office and repeatedly touched her inappropriately, news portal BuzzFeed reported.

She alleged that she was asked to stay quiet by her teachers when she raised the issue. A police officer had filmed her statement without her consent, in which the distraught victim could be seen crying, and trying to hide her face. Later the video was leaked to local media. The officer was heard saying, it’s not a big deal, asking her to remove her hands from her face.

After the report was filed, the principal was arrested. However, the victim and her family allegedly received death threats from the principal’s supporters. On April 6, the victim was doused in kerosene and set on fire by at least four unidentified people when she was tricked into coming to the roof of the school building. According to the police, the attackers dressed in burqas to hide their faces and tried to pressure the victim into withdrawing her complaint against Ud Doula and set her on fire when she refused.

She was rushed to a local hospital but was transferred to Dhaka Medical College Hospital after doctors found that she had suffered 80 per cent burns on her body. She died on April 10. Her killing sparked massive outrage in Bangladesh with protests being held across the country demanding justice for the young victim. Many people have started social media campaigns demanding justice for the schoolgirl.

The police have made multiple arrests since then in connection with the murder. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met the victim’s family in Dhaka and promised that every person involved in the killing would be brought to justice, BBC Bengali reported. “None of the culprits will be spared from legal action,” she promised.

The accused responsible for setting the victim on fire were all students of the madrasa, according to state police and included one woman. Upon interrogation, they revealed they were acting on Ud Doula’s order. An investigation has also been launched into the police’s handling of the victim’s complaint. The police officer who took the victim’s video has been transferred and has been charged with negligence leading to her death as well as violating the cyber privacy laws of the country.