Women hold placards with a photograph of Nusrat Jahan Rafi at a protest in Dhaka. File photo/AFP
Women are hard done by in many countries. Domestic woes, gender inequality and harassment of all kinds is their lot. And if they protest, they have to pay a price, in some cases with their life. As happened in Bangladesh, where 16 people were sentenced to death on Thursday over the murder of a teenager last month.
The killers poured kerosene over Nusrat Jahan Rafi and set her on fire on the roof of her school after she refused to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint against her head teacher.
She died in hospital five days later, sparking public outrage and mass demonstrations calling for her killers to face punishment. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina met Jahan’s family to assure them the killers would not be spared.
"The verdict proves that nobody will get away with murder in Bangladesh. We have the rule of law," prosecutor Hafez Ahmed told reporters after the verdict in a crowded courtroom.
Rafi was lured to the rooftop of the seminary where her attackers pressed her to withdraw the complaint she had filed with police.
When she refused, she was tied up, doused in kerosene and set on fire.
She suffered burns to 80 per cent of her body and died in hospital five days later on April 10.
Her death triggered outrage and also highlighted an alarming rise in sexual harassment cases in the South Asian country of 165 million people.
Protesters in the capital Dhaka staged days of demonstrations seeking "exemplary punishment" for the killers.
After the murder, Bangladesh ordered some 27,000 schools to set up committees to prevent sexual violence.
Defence lawyers said they would appeal against Thursday's verdict in the high court.
The case was fast-tracked with the hearing taking only 62 days.
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