Sometimes reading the news makes my physically ill, and this story from the BBC was no exception. The latest in a string of violent crimes against women in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a woman’s family reported that three to five men gang-raped her and then set her on fire. She was in her home with her two children when the attack happened. The victim’s brother-in-law filed the complaint against the alleged rapists, who are apparently from an influential family in the village.
“Five persons first tried to strangulate my sister and then raped her,” he said. “Since my sister recognized them, they doused her with kerosene and set her ablaze. When she was nearly dead, they left the spot.”
The woman apparently managed to give a statement to the police, but died soon thereafter.
One of the worst parts of this story is that it doesn’t seem to be abnormal for this area; earlier this year, India’s National Commission for Women explained that Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst places in the country for violent crime against women. And in the past week alone, there have been two other reported rapes, one where the victim was stabbed in the eye as she fought her attackers off, and another where the victim was murdered afterward.
Clearly, if these allegations are true, there’s a serious women’s rights crisis in this area of India. At least family members seem to be coming forward to report the attacks, but it’s hard to imagine what life must be like for women there. Earlier today, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (who, unsurprisingly, has been criticized for not acting quickly enough because she’s a woman – and obviously woman politicians are the only ones who care about women’s rights) announced that she will pursue tougher measures against these atrocities, taking steps to “ensure rape trials are completed within six months and that rape is made a non-bailable offense.” But here’s to hoping that these aren’t the only reforms she and her government initiate.
Photo from mckaysavage’s Flickr photostream.