x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Spate of rapes and hangings in India prompt calls for resignation

An Indian woman said Thursday she was gang-raped by four officers at a police station, the latest in a string of shocking sex attacks in the troubled state of Uttar Pradesh.

LUCKNOW, India // A women’s rights group is calling on the government of Uttar Pradesh to resign after a series of gang rapes and hangings in the state continued this week.

Public outrage over violence against women was reignited last month by the deaths of two girls, 12 and 14, who were gang raped and hanged from a tree in their impoverished village in Uttar Pradesh.

Yesterday, a woman said she had been gang raped by four officers at a police station in the state, and police said another girl, 19, was found hanging from a tree.

On Wednesday, the body of yet another woman, 45, was found hanging from a tree in the state. Her family said she was raped and murdered.

Mamata Sharma, head of the state-run national commission for women, urged state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to resign, saying his government’s failure to protect women was “shameful”.

The government “not only fails in protecting women but they don’t even have the police in their control”, Ms Sharma said.

The girl’s brother filed a report against unidentified persons. He has alleged the girl was murdered.

“The body was strung up using the girl’s dupatta [scarf],” senior police superintendent Ashutosh Kumar said, adding the incident occurred in a village in Moradabad district.

India brought in tougher laws last year against sexual offenders after the fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, an attack that drew international condemnation of India’s treatment of women.

But the legislation designed to educate and sensitise police on rape cases has failed to stem the tide of violence.

In south-west Uttar Pradesh, the woman who alleged she was raped by four officers at a police station said the attack occurred as she was trying to seek her husband’s release.

“At 11.30pm when there was no one in the room the sub-inspector took me to his room and raped me inside the police station,” the woman said.

The woman filed a complaint against the sub-inspector and three other officers, alleging she was attacked in Hamirpur district when she refused to pay them a bribe, police said.

A 45-year-old woman was also found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday with her family claiming she had been raped and murdered.

Her husband said she was singled out for attack as she returned home in Bahraich district as punishment for trying to halt the sale of alcohol in her area.

The prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged all politicians to work together to protect women, in his first comments on the issue since the hanging of the girls sparked public outrage.

The appeal came ahead of a scheduled meeting between Mr Yadav and Mr Modi in New Delhi.

At the weekend, Mr Yadav accused the families of the two girls who were lynched of coming under the influence of a rival political party, after they demanded a federal police investigation into the attacks.

Their families refused to have the bodies cut down from the tree for hours in protest, saying police had failed to take action against the attackers because the girls were from a low caste.

When asked earlier by reporters about a sharp rise in rape cases in his state, Mr Yadav replied: “It’s not as if you faced any danger.”

* Agence France-Presse