Inside Uttar Pradesh Station, Woman Raped by Four Policemen

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 02:50 a.m. DST, 14 June 2014

"Policeman facing women in a protest march, Calcutta Kolkata India" Photo by: Jorge RoyanUTTAR PRADESH, India -- This past week has been a treacherous time for the safety of women living in the most populous state in India, Uttar Pradesh. The most unthinkable of these events occurred late Monday night, 9 June 2014, inside a police station in Hamirpur district.

When a woman entered the police outpost after dusk, she intended to leave with her husband. After explaining her connection to the detained man and asking for his release, the officers told the woman she would need to pay a bribe in order to see him freed. When she refused, four policemen proceeded to rape her inside of the police facility.

The highest ranking police officer has been detained, and authorities are now searching for three additional security officers still on the loose.

Several similar tragedies have occurred throughout the various rural villages that form the state of Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday, 12 June, a 19-year-old woman was hanged by a mob of men in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. This episode followed the rape and hanging of two teenage sisters in the early morning hours of 29 May, and another similar incident on Wednesday, 11 June, in the Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. In this horrific crime, a 45-year-old Indian was raped and hanged below a tree.

Therefore, since the 29 May attack, four women have been killed by the brutalities of mob sexual assault in Uttar Pradesh alone. Many are claiming that the prevalence of these attacks are nothing new, only that the reporting and discussion of such crimes are increasing.

In many Indian states, rape goes under-reported because of a stigma against the victims of sexual assault. As the number of formal charges against perpetrators rises, so too does the awareness of the problem.

The aforementioned rape and hanging of two teenage sisters generated international outrage as reports emerged, both with regard to the atrocious act as well as the failure of police to investigate initial reports that a group of men had been seen accosting the young women. The indignation of Indian and international advocates was emphatic, but did little to discourage future cruelties of the same nature.

A final note. On Thursday, June 12, two preteen girls were raped by a group of men inside a hostel in Tamil Nadu state. The hostel is affiliated with a local church, but the offenders had no apparent connection to the congregation. An undoubtedly monstrous act, the attackers held the two girls at knife point while proceeding to violate them.

While the incident in Tamil Nadu took place on the opposite side of the country when taken in conjunction with the crimes throughout Uttar Pradesh state, the faraway communities seem in closer proximity because of these paralleled events.

The first step in addressing the brutality towards women is creating an environment where women feel safe to disclose the crimes committed against them. This process is already underway, and the people of India have protested in favor of increased legislation, and seen positive results. Safeguards against such terrible acts have increased since 2012.

But when policemen are perpetrators in the crime, as in the Hamirpur case, or when officers are complicit in murder, such as the double hanging in May, the shortcomings of these individuals signal a step backward for the movement as a whole.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Teen Sisters Raped, Hanged in Rural India

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 02:50 p.m. DST, 30 May 2014

"casa el purgatori" Photo by: Scott Clark

UTTAR PRADESH, India -- Two teenage girls were brutally raped, strangled, then hung by a group of men in the rural Katra Shahadatganj village of Uttar Pradesh.

Two men have been charged in the crime, and two police officers are being held for failing to file a report of the missing teenagers. Further arrests could be forthcoming.

The 14 and 16-year-old sisters went outside on Tuesday night, 27 May 2014, to relieve themselves in a nearby field. The majority of homes in the Katra locale have no indoor plumbing, which affects women in particular.

To avoid public humiliation, females in the community must restrict their bodily functions to nighttime hours. Tragically, while dusk provided the girls with privacy, the darkness also concealed the perpetrators during their heinous acts. The field is a 15 minute hike from the family's residence.

According to the family of the young girls, the tragedy could have been prevented if police had taken action. Tuesday night, a neighbor warned the parents that he saw a group of men surround the sisters. When the young women were slow to return, the father went directly to police.

The man's plea to officers was met by mockery and condescension. As a member of the 'untouchable' caste, his report meant little to those working in the police outpost. In the eyes of the police, the import of the two missing teens is conditional on their caste status.

An unbelievable image -- the father was literally on his knees in front of police, who continued to ridicule his social rank.

Since the crime, two officers have been jailed. But members of the Katra village aren't encouraged by the punishments. According to locals, the issue is far deeper than a few officials, and like patrolmen will almost certainly take the vacant positions.

At the heart of the tragedy is the intersection of class and gender in India. Had the father held an elevated caste position, perhaps his appeal would have prompted quick police intervention.

The idea of policemen who disregard crimes against women is nothing new in the world's largest democracy. In recent years, police have come under fire for overlooking claims of rape and sexual assault, and in extreme cases, minimizing the culpability of the perpetrators thus further victimizing the women who are brave enough to report abuse.

It is unfortunate that in recent weeks victimization of women across Asia seems to have increased with alarming frequency, but perhaps the converse is true; these crimes against women have always occurred, but now with access to the internet, what was formerly a "dirty" little secret, is now being revealed for what it is - a systemic human rights abuse against women.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Swiss Tourist Gang Raped in India

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 01:02 a.m. DST, 21 March 2013

BicyclingAroundTheWorld.comMADHYA PRADESH, India - Indian police officials have arrested several men suspected of raping a Swiss woman in the Madhya Pradesh state. The exact number of men has been disputed across several news sources, the numbers ranging between three and seven suspects.

A Swiss couple was cycling along central Indian tourist trail on Friday to the city of Agra. According to the Washington Post, the couple pitched a tent in the jungle off the highway and was camping overnight when a group of men attacked them. The men raped the wife, beat the husband, and stole a cell phone and some cash from the couple.

Aljazeera says the local police official MS Dhodee claimed that six men have reportedly confessed to the crime. CNN reports that the confessions are not admissible in court and can be retracted because they were in police custody.

Dilip Arya, deputy inspector of general police, told Reuters that the group of men would go before a magistrate on Monday.

The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern stated that they “are deeply shocked by this tragic incident suffered by a Swiss citizen and her partner in India.”

Officials in India have reacted otherwise. The Washington Post reports that the state’s home minister Uma Shankar Gupta shifted the blame to the foreign tourists for not following tourist rules.

Gupta said, “What happened is unfortunate for our nation. When foreign tourists come, they should inform the (superintendent of police) about their plans. This is the system but it is not being followed.”

The police in India further said that the Swiss couple was in an unsafe area when the attack occurred. R.K. Gurgar, the police station chief in Datia, commented that the couple were in an area where no one could hear them, and that they should have stayed at a nearby village or taken shelter at a school.

The Washington Post reports that Madhya Pradesh has the highest incidence of rapes in the country with over nine reported daily.

There have been calls by human rights groups and the public for stricter laws regarding sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women. These events serve as a painful reminder of another sexual battery case, the horrific 2012 Delhi gang rape case.

In December, a 23-year old woman was beaten and gang raped on a bus while she was traveling with a male companion. The young woman later died of her severe wounds in a hospital in Singapore. Her death caused widespread national and international coverage and was condemned by several women’s’ groups. Public protests were held against the Government of India and Delhi for not providing women adequate security.

Though no country or people can be held responsible for the reprehensible acts of a few, the increased number of violent gang rapes which have recently plagued India speaks to a larger problem which has yet to be addressed. At its core is a cultural disposition in which a woman's right to self-determination, safety, and justice are seemingly of secondary concern to those of men.

As if to highlight this, The Washington Post reported that in New Delhi alone, there have been over 150 reported cases of rape in the first 45 days of 2013.

CNN reports that India’s home affairs minister appointed a panel as a result of the Swiss couple case. The panel criticized Indian attitudes toward sexual assault and called for policy changes, including the punishment of 20-years in jail if convicted of gang rape. Further, the panel suggested that it should be a crime if police officers fail to investigate sexual assault, as well as making it illegal to consider the victim’s character or previous sexual experience of the victim at the trial.

UPDATED: Thursday, 21 March 2013

Associated Press journalist, Ravi Nessman, reported 4 hours ago that "India's Parliament passed a sweeping new law Thursday to protect women against sexual violence in response to a fatal December gang rape and beating of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi.

The new law, which still requires the president's signature before it becomes official, makes stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime. It also provides for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death. The law also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when they receive complaints of sexual attacks." Read Associated Press Article Here

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki