Bangladeshi freedom fighter Ferdousi Priyabhashini died of a cardiac arrest in a hospital in Dhaka on Tuesday. The 71-year-old had been admitted to Labaid Specialised Hospital after suffering a heart attack on February 23, The Dhaka Tribune reported.
During the 1971 Liberation War, Priyabhashini faced torture by Pakistani forces when she was 23 years old. She was the first woman to publicly announce that she was a Birangana – a term used to describe rape survivors of the war.
Priyabhashini fought to have women who were tortured during the war recognised as freedom fighters and to have anti-liberation forces tried. In 2010, she received the Swadhinata Padak (Independence Award), the highest state honour in Bangladesh. In 2016, the government gave her status of a freedom fighter for her wartime work.
“The nation will always remember her contributions to the Liberation War,” said President Mohammed Abdul Hamid. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “With her demise, the nation has lost a valiant freedom fighter. Her death is an irreparable loss to the field of sculptor.”
Her body will be taken to the Central Shaheed Minar for people to pay their final respects on Thursday morning before she is buried.