Two more women have been killed by hanging in the space of two days in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India. A 19-year-old was found hanging from a tree on Thursday in Moradabad, one day after a 42-year-old woman was found in the same way after being threatened by locals for selling alcohol, the BBC reports. Forensic tests have so far failed to find evidence of rape for the latest two cases, but police told the BBC they are investigating to see whether the teenager’s case might be an honor killing.
The two deaths follow the gang-rape and hanging of two girls in the state last month. The death of the two cousins sparked outrage over Indian authorities’ apparent lack of action and failure to protect the country’s women and girls. Disadvantaged low-caste women, many of whom live in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, are especially at risk. Police in India recently used water cannons against women demanding an end to sexual violence. Just yesterday, a woman in India told CNN-IBN that she was gang-raped by four police officers after she refused to pay a bribe for her husband’s release.
Outrage over sexual violence was sparked in 2012 following the horrific gang-rape and death of a student on a bus in Delhi. It prompted the government to tighten laws against attackers, but widespread change hasn’t happened despite a near-constant stream of attacks against women. India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that protecting women is a priority, and told politicians to stop “politicizing rape” during his first address to parliament on Wednesday:
I appeal to our political leaders that we should not carry out psychological analysis of rape ... Is it correct to make a statement always? Why can't we just keep quiet. Respect and security for women should be the topmost priority of the entire people," Modi said.
As CNN’s Hilary Whiteman reports, Modi's comments came after some lawmakers have been accused of trivializing rape; one suggested rapes “happen accidentally,” and another said “boys make mistakes.”