Two fatal rapes outraged many people in India. The victims were women of the lowest caste.
In protest against two fatal gang rapes, people in several regions of India are protesting on the streets and on social networks. Both victims were young women from the lowest Indian caste, Dalits (“untouchables”). One was reportedly molested by men from a higher caste before she died of serious injuries.
In India’s patriarchal society, where the caste system is still important to many people even though it has been officially abolished, Dalit women often suffer double discrimination. The police tried on Thursday in the home village of one of the victims to limit the protests. Some demonstrators put up posters calling for the perpetrators to be hung.
Both young women came from the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, which is one of the poorest. Both died on Tuesday.
One is said to have been mistreated in a field in mid-September. Her tongue and spinal cord were injured, her brother told Indian media. She died two weeks later.
The family accuses the police of having cremated the body in the middle of the night without consent. The police denied this allegation. The state’s head of government tweeted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the rapists should be severely punished.
The second Dalit woman is said to have been raped Tuesday night and died on the way to a hospital, according to police. She was previously kidnapped and drugged, her family told Indian media. After the crime, your child could hardly have spoken and walked, said the mother.
In the meantime, the police said they had arrested the four alleged rapists of the first woman and the two of the second woman. There should be urgent proceedings.
In 2012, a particularly brutal rape case of a student on a bus in the capital of India and the world showed that the country had a fundamental problem – a rape problem.
According to official figures, a woman or a girl is raped there every 15 minutes – and not all cases are recorded. Even today, many Indian women are silent about it. Only particularly brutal cases make national headlines.
In response to this, people have protested again and again in recent years, some demanding the death of perpetrators. But activists say the cause of the many rapes lies deeper – in the patriarchal society, in which many women learned early on that they were worth less than their brothers.
Thousands of female fetuses are aborted every year, girls attend schools less often than boys and daughters are often a financial burden for families – they often have to pay a high dowry when they marry, although this is now officially prohibited.
Activists also accuse the police and the often overloaded judicial system of not taking victims of sexual violence seriously enough – especially if they belong to a lower caste.