We are filled with sorrow at the death of madrasa student Nusrat Jahan who finally succumbed to her injuries on Wednesday night. A victim of a conspiracy to silence her for protesting against sexual harassment by her madrasa's principal, Nusrat was taken to the terrace of the institution under false pretences and four unidentified individuals, wearing burkha, veils and gloves, set her ablaze with kerosene when she refused to withdraw the case filed against the principal. This horrific crime and Nusrat's subsequent death points to the helplessness of female students of these institutions where they are vulnerable to sexual predators and violence.
As we learn more about Nusrat's case, it becomes evident that her life could have been saved had it not been for the failure of the madrasa administration to take action when in the past another complaint of sexual harassment had been made; for the police official who did not cooperate with Nusrat's family; and for the loopholes in the legal system that allowed bail to the principal in other cases.
It is unacceptable that the accused principal had earlier faced sexual harassment allegations and had been sued for forgery, vandalism and arson. According to our news reports, the accused was backed by a section of local influential leaders. Thus it is the same old story of individuals getting away with crimes because of their clout.
For Nusrat's family, there is no solace for the loss of their child, and that too after such excruciating suffering from the burn injuries. We know that certain suspects have been taken into custody and will be interrogated. But the fact remains that this man was able to get away with his despicable crime, that his accomplices were able to exact the most barbaric form of revenge in broad daylight, despite the presence of students, teachers and security guards. Unless all the culprits involved in this premeditated murder are caught and meted out punishment, there will be no justice for Nusrat or her family. Moreover, it will give no consolation to other students of this institution and no guarantee that they will be safe from sexual assault and other forms of violence.