Michael Ransom, Contributing Editor
Last Modified: 02:50 p.m. DST, 30 May 2014
UTTAR PRADESH, India — Two teenage girls were brutally raped, strangled, then hung by a group of men in the rural Katra Shahadatganj village of Uttar Pradesh.
Two men have been charged in the crime, and two police officers are being held for failing to file a report of the missing teenagers. Further arrests could be forthcoming.
The 14 and 16-year-old sisters went outside on Tuesday night, 27 May 2014, to relieve themselves in a nearby field. The majority of homes in the Katra locale have no indoor plumbing, which affects women in particular.
To avoid public humiliation, females in the community must restrict their bodily functions to nighttime hours. Tragically, while dusk provided the girls with privacy, the darkness also concealed the perpetrators during their heinous acts. The field is a 15 minute hike from the family’s residence.
According to the family of the young girls, the tragedy could have been prevented if police had taken action. Tuesday night, a neighbor warned the parents that he saw a group of men surround the sisters. When the young women were slow to return, the father went directly to police.
The man’s plea to officers was met by mockery and condescension. As a member of the ‘untouchable’ caste, his report meant little to those working in the police outpost. In the eyes of the police, the import of the two missing teens is conditional on their caste status.
An unbelievable image — the father was literally on his knees in front of police, who continued to ridicule his social rank.
Since the crime, two officers have been jailed. But members of the Katra village aren’t encouraged by the punishments. According to locals, the issue is far deeper than a few officials, and like patrolmen will almost certainly take the vacant positions.
At the heart of the tragedy is the intersection of class and gender in India. Had the father held an elevated caste position, perhaps his appeal would have prompted quick police intervention.
The idea of policemen who disregard crimes against women is nothing new in the world’s largest democracy. In recent years, police have come under fire for overlooking claims of rape and sexual assault, and in extreme cases, minimizing the culpability of the perpetrators thus further victimizing the women who are brave enough to report abuse.
It is unfortunate that in recent weeks victimization of women across Asia seems to have increased with alarming frequency, but perhaps the converse is true; these crimes against women have always occurred, but now with access to the internet, what was formerly a “dirty” little secret, is now being revealed for what it is – a systemic human rights abuse against women.
- Hanged India girls ‘were gang raped’ (bbc.co.uk)
- India outrage over hanged girls (bbc.co.uk)
- Teen Sisters Gang-Raped, Hanged From Mango Tree In India; Cops Suspected (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by her family (newsfixnow.com)
- Indian village protests after teenage sisters raped and hanged from tree (telegraph.co.uk)