[The report of multiple rapes and hangings horrified millions, and throughout India angry protests by women were brutally suppressed by police. The official response, dismissive of women’s rights, was clear; as The Daily Mail reported, “Three men have been arrested over the killings. Two policemen were held on suspicion of trying to cover up the crime…..Shortly after the incident, a lawmaker from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party described rape as a social crime, saying ‘sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.’ The controversial remarks came as political leaders of Uttar Pradesh – the state where the two cousins aged 12 and 14 were raped and hanged – faced criticism for failing to visit the scene. Another regional politician from Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the crime of rape could only be considered to have been committed if it is reported to police.” –Frontlines ed.]
Shannon Greenwood, ThinkProgress.org, June 3, 2014
The brutal gang-rape and murder of two teenage cousins in India last week has sparked a new wave of protests across the country as sexual violence and the government’s response returns to the spotlight.
The two girls, who went missing last Tuesday night after leaving their home in search of a place to find a place to relieve themselves, were found raped and hung from a mango tree in their village the following morning.
This weekend hundreds nationwide protested the murders demanding immediate repercussions and a conscious effort by authorities to end the ongoing epidemic. In Lucknow, capital of the state where the girls were raped, hundreds of women protesting outside the office of Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday were met with water cannons from police attempting to disperse the demonstration. In Allahabad, women from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) burned an effigy of Yadav during their protests on Saturday. During a press conference last Friday, Yadav mocked journalists who voiced their concerns about the case on the same day his government fired the two officers who failed to help find the missing girls.
The cousins’ story depicts a gruesome reality in India where violence against women has become a commonality and lackluster action from authorities has been a familiar response. According to a United Nations-backed group’s 2012 report in India “every 60 minutes two women are raped, and every six hours a young married woman is found beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide.” Despite that, a culture where police officers tell reporters “If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it” remains prevalent in India.
Despite public outcry which began following the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in late December 2012, sexual violence in India has yet to curb. The Indian government recently passed legislation doubling prison sentences for rapist and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and human trafficking in response, but last week’s attack highlights the fact that sexual violence is still all too common in India.
More photos from this weekend’s protests can be seen below:
CREDIT: AP IMAGES