On September 24, 2004, Rahela Akhter Lima’s suffering ended after nearly a month of unimaginable pain after her assailants left her for dead following rape, cutting-slashing, mugging, and robbery and then came back to torture her some more with acid. She was a strong-willed garment worker-housewife aged only 20 years from Savar. Today marks her third death anniversary.
Has Rahela received any justice after three years by the arrests, convictions, and exemplary punishment of her assailants? Has her death and suffering made women safer in
During that long month, she survived long enough to bravely name two assailants, Linton and Delwar—former college classmates--and two other miscreants—Akash and Kabir-- who took her belongings, raped her, slit her tendons and cut into her spinal cord, and left her in a Jahangirnagar University garden on 22 August. They returned on 24 August and found her still alive; they added further insult to her injuries by pouring acid on her! After three days and two nights of suffering, a gardener found her and police took her to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where she struggled against infected wounds, severed spinal cord, and paralysis until she died on 24 September (picture of her & mother).
As often occurs, despite her mother Rokeya filing a case with Savar
Given the ongoing violence against women, these organizations moved on to protest other cases and lax law enforcement. Speakers and researchers from the One-Stop Crisis Centre reported that garment workers and students are particularly vulnerable to such assaults, sexual harassment, and eve-teasings as they move about from home and work. Ironically, these women are the future and earners of
Despite the monthly litany of newspaper reports and clippings on violence against women in
Today and other years, I remember her courage to name her assailants, her strong will to live despite her injuries, and extraordinary struggle and sacrifice as I work to end violence against women, children, and men. I hope that her soul has found some peace.
Note: This piece has been based on English newspaper clippings from August and September 2004 that I collected while in the