Gang rape is getting renewed attention in India as the father of the teenage girl who was the victim of such an attack last October is pushing for a federal inquiry into the case amidst an outbreak of protests. Protesters in the hundreds took to Kolata’s streets last Friday, accusing Indian authorities of negligence in dealing with the gang rape.
The girl reported to the police in October after she had been the victim of a second rape by the same gang of men, but the police did not pay sufficient attention to the case, according to the girl and her family. They are seeking redress from higher authorities in India.
The police were defended by West Bengal State’s Urban Development Minister. Six suspects in the case have been arrested for the rapes. Another two men have been arrested for murder for allegedly setting the girl on fire. The case against them is based a statement made by the girl before she died of burn injuries.
According to the girl, last October she had been gang raped and left in a field. The girl was again raped by the same gang the next day after the men abducted the girl on her way home from reporting to the police. One month later, the girl was again assaulted by the gang, according to the girl’s father. This time the gang lit the girl on fire after threatening her with violence if the girl did not withdraw her legal complaints against the men, according to the father.
The father has also been threatened, according to his own testimony. The victim’s father says that the police told the man to move his family out of West Bengal State.
The father has given interviews about the treatment he received after he tried to pursue the gang rape through the police. Officials at the Indian Trades Union Center where the family sought refuge have also commented, stating that the family had been persecuted because the rapists were linked to the Trinamool Congress party, the ruling party in West Bengal. The leader of the Trinamool Congress party has denied these allegations.
The girl died last Wednesday, December 31. The girl was pregnant when she died, according to the doctor who treated her in hospital. The cause of death was septicaemia and organ failure due to burns over 40 percent of the girl’s body.
Another gang rape is also getting renewed attention in India; that of a 23-year-old woman who was gang raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, in December, 2012. The woman in the bus rape also died. Four attackers complicit in the bus gang rape were sentenced to death. A juvenile who was involved received three years in a reform center.
In India, rape is one of the most common crimes perpetrated against women, according to Indian expert on ethnic conflicts and peace processes Radha Kumar. Between 1990 and 2008, reports of rape have doubled in India. 24,000 reports of rape were filed in India in 2011. Currently, a rape is reported in India every 20 or so minutes.
Recently, the issue of rape in India has been given a lot of attention by activists and politicians. Legislators have created more severe laws, doubling rape sentences to 20 years. Related offenses such as stalking, voyeurism, trafficking of women, and acid attacks have also been criminalized. Rape cases in India have been recently handled in fast-track courts.
The names of the teenage girl has not been publicized. Laws in India protect the identities of both the girl involved and her father from media publication, where attention attracted to the reports of gang rape could get the family unwanted repercussions.
By Day Blakely Donaldson