Protests erupted in India two weeks after a young woman was dragged from a field and allegedly gang-raped and tortured.
The 19-year-old girl was attacked while cutting grass September 14 in Uttar Pradesh’s Hatras district. The assailants allegedly dragged her into the field with her shawl, raped her and tried to strangle her.
The woman, her family, was naked, bleeding and paralyzed, her tongue cracked and her spinal cord was broken. He was rushed to a hospital in Aligarh city and this week was shifted to a facility in Delhi, where he succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday morning. Four people have been arrested in connection with his death.
The woman was a Dalit, meaning she was of the lowest Indian caste. The accused lived in the house with his family and belonged to the upper caste.
On Tuesday, more than 300 protesters from the Bhim Army, a party supporting the rights of Dalits, gathered outside a Delhi hospital to demand justice.
The woman’s family alleges that her low social status meant that police initially did not take the matter seriously until she was caught in the media. Hatras police have denied that their response was slow.
The use of sexual violence as a source of oppression against lower castes is on the rise in India, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Since September, the state has finally seen three other young Dalit women and girls being raped and murdered by upper-caste men. The youngest victim was three years old. Statistics show that at least four Dalit women are raped every day in India.
Diva Srinivasan, an adviser to the women’s rights organization Equality for South Asia, said, “The horrific gang rape and death of this young Dalit woman once again shows the close link between sexual violence and India’s system of discrimination. ۔ “
Srinivasan said that despite repeated outbursts in India in response to incidents of extreme sexual violence and persecution, “nothing is being done at the grassroots level”.
“The time has come for the Government of India and the Criminal Justice System to begin effectively tackling the epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence against Dalit women and girls,” she said.
India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman. Protests erupted across the country in 2012 after a deadly gang rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi, and further unrest in Hyderabad last year after a young doctor was raped and murdered.
The introduction of harsher punishments for rape and sexual assault has done little to prevent attacks.
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