India: Rape and Hanging of Dalit Girls Prompts Government to Announce New Measures Against Violence
Friday, June 6, 2014 8:45 PM

Two young Dalit girls, ages 14 and 16, were raped and hanged with their own scarves last week in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, sparking protests and prompting the newly elected federal government to announce measures to protect women from violence. The girls, like nearly 50% of India’s population, lacked any sanitation facilities in their home and were attacked in a field near their village that was used as a toilet.

Although five men have ben arrested in connection with the rapes and killings, including two police officers, many argue that caste discrimination contributed both to the brutality of the murders and police indifference to reports from family members that the girls were missing. The Dalit caste is considered “untouchable” in Indian society, and perpetrators often enjoy impunity for rapes and violence committed against Dalit women. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women recently reported that in India, “the intergenerational nature of caste-based discrimination condemns women to a life of exclusion, marginalization and disadvantage in every sphere of life.”

Government proposals include improving access to sanitation facilities for thousands of villages in India and setting up new rape crisis centers in Uttar Pradesh, although details on where, when and how, the centers will be set up are lacking. Groups including Amnesty International have called on the Indian Government to end impunity for violence against Dalit women, in accord with the country’s obligations under international law.

Compiled from: India government announces new measures targeting violence against women, ABC Radio Australia (June 6, 2014); Indian girls found hanging after gang-rape, Al-Jazeera (May 30, 2014); Authorities must impartially investigate gang-rape and murder of Dalit girlsAmnesty International,(May 30, 2014).