Rahela the Fighter
On September 21, when we went to the DMCH
for a different story, I couldn't resist going to Ward 35
to see Rahela. I was shocked to see that she had become so
thin. Her eyes were half closed and she looked unconscious.
Her mother stared at her child's face and cried in anguish.
Rahela was dying.
Begum, a field worker of Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK), who had
been assigned by ASK to help Rahela, was almost in tears as
she said that the infection had spread all over her legs.
Fluid was oozing out of her limbs and the doctors were going
to transfer her to the Intensive Care Unit. I then noticed
Rahela's sister, Nasima, with whom I had talked a few times
before, sitting in a corner saying absolutely nothing.
next time I went to Ward 35, a few days later, there was a
new patient on Rahela's bed. She was already in ICU and her
condition had deteriorated.
Rahela Akhtar Lima, finally gave up her amazing struggle to
live on Thursday, September 23 at 3 in the morning. She had
been at the DMCH for 23 days and three days in a hole in Savar
where her assailants left her for dead.
sheer determination to survive is awe-inspiring. After being
raped, stabbed with her spinal cord almost totally severed,
Rahela had to endure a second bout of torture of having acid
poured over her. A torture as brutal as that would be sure
to kill anyone. But miraculously she survived in spite of
being left bleeding in a hole in a bush. Insects had poured
into the open wound at the back of her neck and the injury
had left her permanently paralyzed neck downwards. Yet she
still spoke clearly and revealed the names of her assailants.
to a Prothom Alo report, Rahela had been working at a garments
factory after separating from her husband. It was here that
two co-workers, Foja and Delwar, used to harass her. Around
two months before Rahela was assaulted, Foja had slapped Rahela
after which she complained to the management. Foja was sacked.
It is suspected that Foja and Delwar, with the help of their
friend Liton, took their revenge on Rahela.
Rahela had been rescued, an SI filed a case at the Savar thana.
Rahela had given the police three names: Delwar, Liton and
a third name, which the police have not revealed for investigation
purposes. Liton and Delwar fled the scene as soon as they
found out that Rahela had been rescued. The police arrested
Foja and the case is still under investigation.
that she is no more, there are chances that like all other
heinous crimes, this too will be forgotten. But this must
not be allowed to happen. Human rights organisations have
voiced their protests against the crime. Rahela was a fighter
who seemed to have stayed alive so she could make sure people
knew the identities of those who had so brutally cut her life
short. The cries of protest and outrage must go on until the
rapist-killers are caught and punished.
a previous story, Rahela was referred to as Shima, in concurrence
with our policy to protect the identity of a rape victim.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004