When activist, cover model and medical student Raudha Athif was found dead by hanging late last month, medical examiners initially ruled her death a suicide. But her family is now claiming she was killed by Islamic extremists as punishment for violating restrictive dress codes.
A native of the Maldives, the 21-year-old beauty was studying medicine at the Islami Bank Medical College in Bangladesh. There, her brother Rayyan Athif tells The Sun, she was routinely criticized for her style of dress — including wearing jeans on campus.
“Her style of clothing was branded as ‘immodest’ and ‘un-Islamic’ even though she adhered to the dress code in the college premises by wearing a veil covering her face,” Rayyan told the newspaper.
Instead of backing down, Raudha, who was a Muslim, used her public profile as a popular model — known as the “Maldivian girl with aqua blue eyes” — to take a stand against what she reportedly saw as bullying from extreme religious groups.
— WBAL Baltimore News (@wbaltv11) April 9, 2017
Raudha appeared on the October 2016 cover of Vogue India and had over 30,000 followers on her Instagram account, which was taken down after her March 29 death in her hostel on the college campus. A memorial Instagram account is now in its place.
Gone but not forgotten🌹Maldivian Queen! Beautiful child of the sea. Rip Raudha Athif, you are forever loved and may you soul rest in good peace. #raudhaathif✨🙏🌹 #rip🙏 #rip #ripraudhaathif #share #like #comment #voguemodel #model #indian #beautiful #beauty #like #follow #followforfollow #insta #instagram #like4like #like4like #followme #maldivian #vogue #voguemagazine
According to Chron.com, a postmortem examination found marks on her neck that were initially identified as birthmarks, but her family says that is not the case. Her brother says the family believes those marks are a sign of strangulation, and said her body was found covered in bruises and with “tightly-held fists,” indicating a struggle.
Raudha reportedly told her family someone had tried to drug her drink a week before she died.
The superintendent of the hostel told The Sun that Raudha “always looked happy” and it was “hard to believe” she had taken her own life.
Her brother also told The Sun there was no indication that Raudha was suicidal.
Raudha was a happy girl with a bright future and a promising career ahead of her. She was friendly, light-hearted and full of life. Her friends and family find it impossible to believe that she would take her own life.
There have been a series of murders in Bangladesh which have been staged to look like suicides and Islamic extremists have been suspected to be behind these atrocities.
Investigators are reportedly re-examining the young woman’s death in response to the widespread speculation she was murdered.
According to The Sun, Bangladesh’s Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP) and Maldivian police have met at the college campus to further investigate the scene of Raudha’s death, and are also examining her computer and cell phone.
“There is a 50 per cent chance that she did not commit suicide,” an assistant commissioner for the RMP Detective Branch reportedly told the Dhaka Tribune.
Photo: Instagram screenshot