A woman was hanged from a tree in India’s state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and another was allegedly raped in a police station, police said, the latest incidents in a wave of crimes against women reported in the country’s most populous region over the past two weeks.
Police suspect the hanged woman was raped before being murdered, bringing to five the number of rapes reported in the past 36 hours in the state, including two women who were then killed.
“The sub-inspector accused of committing the rape of the woman has been put under arrest while we have launched a manhunt for the three constables accused of being party to the crime,” a spokesman at state police headquarters said.
The latest reports come after two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang-raped and hanged from a tree on May 27, the day after Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister.
The two cousins, from a low-caste community, went missing from their home in Uttar Pradesh when they went to an outdoor toilet. The next morning, villagers found their bodies hanging from a mango tree in a nearby orchard.
Workers from Mr. Modi’s party clashed with police when they tried to march on the office of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to protest against the violence, and opposition parties have demanded Mr. Yadav’s dismissal.
Mamata Sharma, head of the state-run National Commission for Women, also urged Mr. Yadav to resign, calling his government’s failure to protect women “shameful.”
“They [the government] not only fails in protecting their women, but they don’t even have the police in their control,” Ms. Sharma told NDTV.
But Mr. Yadav, speaking on a visit to New Delhi, insisted that the situation was no worse than elsewhere in the country. “Law and order is an important issue for any state. The government is working to maintain law and order,” he said.
“In UP, the environment is good and the law-and-order situation is better than several other states,” he added, referring to his state by its abbreviation.
India last year brought in tougher laws against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December, 2012, an attack that drew international condemnation of India’s treatment of women.
But the legislation, which was also designed to educate and sensitize police on rape cases, has failed to stem the tide of violence.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the world’s poorest regions and has largely missed out on the economic boom that swept much of India over the past decade. Its population of 208 million is larger than that of Russia, and it has endured a string of revolving-door governments that have pandered to narrow caste interests.
Mr. Yadav ran his 2012 election campaign as a modernizer, advocating the use of technology to transform the state. However, his term in office has been marred by scandals over riots, gangsterism, and now, sex crimes.
His father, a former chief minister widely seen as the power behind the throne in the state, drew widespread condemnation earlier this year when he said rape laws should be softened and that “boys will be boys” – sometimes committing rape by mistake.
As in many parts of the world, conservative Indian leaders across the political spectrum frequently blame rape on the victims’ dress and social behaviour.
Mr. Modi broke his silence on the issue in a speech to parliament, the Lok Sabha, on Wednesday, saying India needed to protect and respect women and that the government needed to act.
He also asked politicians to refrain from making comments about why rape happened. A senior member of Mr. Modi’s own party last week said rape was a social issue, and “sometimes right, sometimes wrong.”
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