A teen girl gang-rape sparks protests in India
After a teenager’s death in an alleged attack by four men sparked protests across India, state police announced Thursday that she had not been raped. The suspects in the case remain in custody and still face murder charges.
The 19-year-old Dalit (formerly known as “untouchable”) girl is from a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, 200km (124 miles) from the Indian capital New Delhi, was raped in a field near her house on September 14 by four suspects belonging to upper castes in the Hindu religion’s hierarchy.
But on Thursday, the police said they were ruling out the rape allegations.
“Putting to rest all the speculation, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report on the vaginal sample of the 19-year old girl of Hathras has revealed that she was not raped,” Prashant Kumar, a senior official from the Uttar Pradesh Police said in a statement. The post-mortem report indicated the woman died due to trauma following an injury to the neck.
The teenager’s body was cremated in an open field in Hathras in the middle of the night in the presence of nearly two dozen police and other officials, but without her family consent.
The family said they wanted to see the girl’s face once more before her cremation, but the authorities refused.
“I begged them to show me her face one last time. They didn’t,” the mother of the victim said to CNN News 18.
“The last time we saw her face was just after the post-mortem [autopsy] was done. They did not even accord us the basic dignity of allowing us to watch her face one last time,” her brother said.
The woman’s death sparked protests across Uttar Pradesh, which then spread to major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Hundreds of angry protesters chanted and waved banners as they marched through the streets of Hathras. Some demonstrators gathered outside the Delhi hospital where she died; another protest took place near the Indian President’s residence, where several dozen people were detained for violating pandemic restrictions.
The public outcry intensified after it emerged that a second woman, a 22-year-old who was also a member of the Dalit community, died of severe injuries in the same state on the same day after being gang-raped.
According to human rights organizations including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based violence and discrimination.