Residents of Katra village in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh woke up to the horrific sight of two teenage girls hanging from a tree, the victims of another brutal attack against young women.
The girls, cousins aged 14 and 15, were reported missing on Tuesday night, and their bodies discovered the following morning. Distraught villagers say that police refused to search for the girls. Two officers have been dismissed over the incident, and are being accused of criminal conspiracy. In addition, five men have been accused of raping and murdering the girls.
The Washington Post reports that officials think the girls were targeted because they are members of the formerly "untouchable" Dalit community. A local police official told the Post that "We haven’t concluded the investigations but as of now we believe the girls were assaulted for their low caste."
Dalit Indians were protesting violence against their women and girls long before this attack. Al Jazeera reported two weeks ago that 90 families had been protesting for three weeks in New Delhi, demanding government protection:
At a protest site in the heart of India's capital, New Delhi, four gang-rape victims -- the youngest of whom is 13 -- drape dupattas (scarves) across their faces as they help other women cook for the fellow protesters... the latest movement originated in Haryana's Hisar district west of New Delhi following the gang-rape of the Dalit girls from Bhagana village a month ago that many see as a backlash by dominant Jat castes against Dalits' assertion of their rights.
Brutal attacks on Indian girls and women caught the world's attention following an especially disturbing event in 2012, when a 23-year-old woman was repeatedly raped and brutalized on a bus in Delhi, and later died of the numerous injuries she sustained. Since then, regular protests have broken out throughout the country and officials have attempted to reform the lenient sexual assault laws and misogynistic culture which allows for such attacks. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have had much effect on the number of attacks.
Nirmala Samant, a member of the country's National Commission of Women called the incident "a horrific crime," adding that the group will send a team to investigate what happened. She added that the government has failed to deliver on their promise to protect women, until the government provides "protection for girls from rape, molestation, such kind of incident will go on."