The gang rape and murder of two Dalit women in the last recent weeks has sparked outrage across India, with calls for the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to resign.
Both murders took place in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh, with the two women belonging to India’s marginalised Dalit caste.
One of the women, a 19-year-old teenager was gang raped on September 14th in the Hathras district by ‘upper-caste’ men, and left ‘naked, bleeding and seriously injured in a field’ affirms her mother. She fought for her life for two weeks before passing away. The police supposedly claimed that she was not raped; however, the Delhi hospital to which she was initially admitted holds records that she was raped and strangled. “We didn't even get to see her one last time’’ stated the 19-year-olds family, accusing the police of hurriedly cremating the teenager’s body overnight without their permission, in an attempt to destroy evidence. Five senior police officials, including the chief officer of Hathras have since been suspended over the conduct of the investigation, and four ‘higher-caste’ men have been arrested on gang rape and murder charges.
The second woman, a 22-year-old was hauled into a car and raped while she was on the way to apply for admission at a neighbourhood school in the Balrampur district, around 300 miles away from where the 19-year-old was killed in Hathras. "They broke my daughter's leg, they broke her waist," stated her mother, adding that she was drugged before being raped and then sent home in a rickshaw. According to police officials, two men have been detained on gang rape and murder charges, however, their identities have not been revealed.
Five senior police officers have been suspended over their handling of an investigation into the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman that has sparked outrage across India and triggered days of protests https://t.co/sF3reqnx32 pic.twitter.com/Sawl7RVpsT
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 3, 2020
The murders have drawn extraordinary attention on social media, particularly that of the teenager, with thousands of tweets from political leaders and Indian citizens denouncing the murders.
Students in Delhi and Hyderabad held protests on October 1st, demanding protection for women, as well as burning an effigy of a senior elected official of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, and called for his resignation.
“We (women) are not actually free, even though India is independent” stated a woman at a recent protest in Delhi. “This is something I want to raise my voice against. And I just wish all the people get united and they understand that it is high time to do something about it.”
India has been under the spotlight since 2012, when a student referred to as ‘Nirbhaya’ was gang raped and murdered in Delhi, leading to massive protests and modifications to the country’s rape laws; a case that has become a symbol of the country’s issues with sexual violence. The four gang rape and murder convicts were hanged in March 2020, in ‘a day for all women of the country’ as stated by a victim’s father. Nevertheless, the annual Crime in India 2019 report by the National Crime Records Bureau illustrates an increase of 7.3% of recorded crimes against women in 2019 from 2018, with the highest number of rape cases in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
India remains one of the world’s most dangerous places for women with a rape occurring every 15 minutes, according to federal data.