21 Feb 2013

India sexual violence: three sisters raped and murdered

The rape and murder of three young sisters in India again highlights official incompetence in the face of sexual violence against women. Enraged locals take to the streets to demand police action.

On Wednesday, people in the Bhandara district of India’s western state Maharashtra took to the streets after post-mortem results showed the three girls, who were found dumped in a well, had been sexually assaulted and killed.

The girls, aged 11, nine and six, were found in the well near Murmadio village on Saturday, two days after last being seen leaving school. It has been reported that police at first dismissed their deaths as accidental. Locals, demanding justice, blocked the National Highway 6, burning tyres and reportedly destroying public property.

Police say they had to wait for the results of a post mortem to confirm that the girls had been raped, but have now launched a manhunt for the men suspected of involvement in the case.

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Rajendra Singh, inspector general of the Nagpu Range police, said: “We have some leads and clues and are working on them. Though it is difficult to comment right now but we will certainly provide more information.”

Praful Patel, a federal minister who represents the local parliamentary constituency, said: “Proper investigations must be conducted even if it means taking assistance from police of other states including making use of Crime Investigation Department (CID) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).”

Protestors gathered in Delhi to call for harsher sentences against rapists (picture: Reuters)

The incident comes two months after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in New Delhi, a case that sparked demonstrations in the streets of the city and brought a global spotlight on violence against women in the country.

Demonstrators were gathered in the streets of Delhi on Thursday (pictured, above), demanding Indian lawmakers implement harsher punishments and quicker trials for rape cases.

Last month a similar attack took place, in which a 29-year-old woman was allegedly raped by six men on a bus in the north of the country.

A number of high profile names have spoken about the shocking extent to which violence against women prevails in India. The writer Arundhati Roy told Channel 4 News that rape is being used as a weapon, and that womena are paying the price.

Actress Thandie Newton, discussing the One Billion Rising campaign this month, told Channel 4 News that India is now “leading the way” in raising awareness over sexual violence against women after the New Delhi attacked “galvanised” the country.