Sabrina Zarin, a Supreme Court Barrister on verdict of Nusrat Murder

Naomi Wolf once stated, “Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.” However, even when beauty is covered, it can still get instigated by evil eyes, it is our morality, our teachings and our way of thinking which need to be questioned. We need to ponder upon the answers and solutions to such issues. When an individual suffers or falls victim to an incident, our society responds, to that individual’s retaliation, in a manner that will only make the victim plunge into despair. The Nusrat murder case is one such tragic outcome of inhuman torture which led to open our eyes and speak against sexual harassment.

As a woman, we fall behind in retaliating against harassment and wrongdoings. Once we do stand up for ourselves, the remorseless and ruthless individuals roam around justifying their shameful acts by shifting the blame or sometimes killing their victims. In a society, like ours, where these perpetrators get a “free out of jail card”, it makes one wonder whether will we ever learn, and be on the right side.

It is unfortunate, indeed when a young girl like Nusrat loses her life. The poor girl had to pay too much of a high price only because she stood against the heinous act, which was inflicted upon her. She neither deserved the outcome nor did she expect it. As a country, we should be ashamed, and our hearts should go out to this young woman. 

Nusrat was set on fire by her rapist. After the ruthless act against her, it was found out that 75 percent of Nusrat’s body suffered from third-degree burns. She went through such an excruciating demise simply because she retaliated. Her death made us speechless and threw us in a dilemma on where we stand as a society.

Our law enforcers have worked very hard and presented the charge sheet of this case very quickly for a change. On October 24, the Feni woman and child repression prevention tribunal convicted all the sixteen accused in the Nusrat Murder case. 

After the case was filed, the investigation was spearheaded by the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI). On May 29, the PBI pressed charges against the 16 accused. Out of the 16 convicted in the case, 12 gave confessional statements before the court. These confessional statements were presented in front of the Magistrates under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On June 27, the trial of the case began, and the court recorded statements of 87 witnesses. Finally, the judgment was delivered by the relevant judges and the death sentence passed to the accused on October 24.

For the judgment to be affirmed, a death reference has to be passed by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the 2327-page death reference documents have reached the High Court. The 2327-page case documents were brought to the High Court wherein, Judge Mamunur Rashid of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal, heard the case and went through all the case documents. Later, he sentenced 16 people to death.

The nationwide protests and the commendable support and stance by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh led to an independent inquiry, impartial trial and a speedy judgment. The judiciary has played a very vital role and has restored faith in our legal system and the work being done.

Nusrat’s father stated “The whole country had seen what happened to my daughter. She was an innocent girl and was brutally murdered for her strong stance against wrongdoing.”

Nusrat stood up for herself. She dared to do so. Even though her family was pressured to withdraw the case, they stood their ground, was able to get a verdict in favour of Nusrat with the nation. This is only the first victory in a long embroiled war against sexual harassment in the country. It is a reminder that we need to continue raising our voices and make sure justice is being done rather than being denied.