Public outrage has grown in India after a series of rape crimes. Two police officers have been fired for failing to investigate the disappearance of two teenage girls, who were later raped and found hanging from a tree.
India’s government said on Friday it was planning to establish a special crisis cell that would ensure justice for the victims of sex crimes.
Meanwhile, on Thursday a day after the discovery of the two teenage victims, police said three men had been arrested for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim.
Backlash over teenage girls
The two cousins, aged 14 and 15, came from a low-caste community. They went missing from their home in tiny village of Katra, about 180 miles (300 kilometers) from Lucknow, in India’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
Police said the girls had disappeared on Tuesday. The father of one of the teenagers went to report them missing that night. But he told Indian broadcaster NDTV that police had refused to file a complaint.
Angry villagers protested against the police inaction when the girls were discovered, initially preventing their bodies from being cut down.
Police suspended two local police officers on Thursday for ignoring the father’s plea for help, and they were fired on Friday. Three men including a policeman were arrested in connection with the attack, while another policeman and three more accused are reportedly still at large.
‘Rape crisis cell’
Maneka Gandhi, who was recently appointed child welfare minister by India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said every officer involved in the case should be sacked.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, meanwhile, asked the state government of Uttar Pradesh to submit a report on the attack, a ministry spokesman said.
At a protest in the capital New Delhi (pictured), scores of students and women’s rights activists chanted slogans including “end this rape culture” and called on the Uttar Pradesh government to step down.
Arrests in attack of rape victim’s mother
In a separate incident, police on Thursday arrested three men suspected of attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint. The incident left the mother hospitalized in critical condition with multiple fractures, police and medics said.
The attack, which took place in the town of Etawah, came after the victim’s daughter was raped on May 11. A local man was arrested after the mother complained to police.
Five men, including the father, a brother and a cousin of the man accused in the rape, followed the mother as she left her house and then attacked her, demanding she rescind her accusation, according to the town’s police superintendant Dinesh Kumar.
India in the spotlight
Women’s safety in India has been in the international spotlight since the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012 – an incident that drew international condemnation and led to the introduction of stricter rape laws.
Officials say around 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. However, activists say that number is low because female victims are often pressured by family or police to remain quiet about the crime.
Amnesty International said the rape of the two teenage girls showed that women from lower castes in India “face multiple levels of discrimination and violence” despite “the existence of constitutional safeguards and special laws.”
dr/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)