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