Two 12 and 15-year-old girls were lynched last week in western Uttar Pradesh in India after being abducted, gang raped and hanged by their attackers. The Indian village, known as Katra in the Badaun district, is one of the world’s most impoverished areas.
Most of its citizens work as tillers or take up small, part-time jobs in order to make a living. With hardly any money, most cannot afford a functioning toilet, so they relieve themselves in nearby fields.
Yet this is exactly what would lead to the death of two young cousins after being abducted by three men in the fields of their village. Their attackers hanged the two girls on a tree in the village, which would be on display for the entire community.
Thought by medical experts to have been hanged alive, many are wondering how and why these gruesome attacks could have taken place in a day and age where feminism is, in most parts of the world, on the rise.
India has had a history of women’s rights problems for years. After the gang rape case of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi in 2012, in which four men were all found guilty and given the death penalty, India has been making a concerted effort to tighten their rules regarding violence against women.
Yet this has by no means actually prevented or improved cases of violence against women in the country; in most cases, police insensitivity has been proliferated by patriarchal attitudes of those in governmental power.
The Samajwadi Party is just one example of misogyny’s power in Indian politics. The senior Samajwadi Party leader, Ram Gopal Yadav, spoke of the most recent incident, stating, “[In] many places, when the relationship between girls and boys come out in the open, it is termed as rape.”
Two months ago, party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that “boys will be boys” and vehemently opposed the death penalty as punishment for acts of rape.
The three men responsible for the two teenage girls’ deaths in Katra have been arrested, and two policemen are being held on suspicion for trying to cover up the crimes.
This is not an uncommon occurrence: while a rape is reported every 21 minutes in India, law enforcement failure often results in crimes not being reported or investigated fully. Yet as the case rises in power, world officials are continuing to speak out against these acts of misogyny.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who stated that he was “appalled” by these recent acts, is just one of many to have spoken out. “We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of ‘boys will be boys,’” he said. As the government continues to crack down on these acts, many hope its citizens will listen.
— Nick Magnanti