Fury over ‘gang rape’ of nine-year-old


The alleged gang rape and murder of a nine-year-old, “low-caste” girl has sparked a third day of protests in India’s capital on Tuesday.

The horrific case is just the latest incident to highlight the country’s high levels of sexual violence.

Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets in New Delhi, holding banners reading “give justice to the little girl” and demanding the death penalty for the four men accused of the crime.

The girl was the daughter of a poor rag-picker couple who begged at a shrine in Delhi’s Nangli area.

She was asked by her father to fetch water from the cooler of a nearby crematorium on Sunday.

When she didn’t return her mother searched for her and found her daughter’s motionless body lying on a bench.

Her tongue was reportedly blue and she had bruises on parts of her body.

The woman was approached by the crematorium priest and three others who claimed the girl had been electrocuted while getting the water.

They demanded her body be immediately cremated.

“Go home and sleep. Don’t shout and cry about it,” the mother claims the priest told her.

He also reportedly offered to perform the girl’s final rights.

“When I went there he informed me that my daughter was dead. I asked how she died. I told them to dial ‘100’ and call the police. He refused,” the girl’s mother told news channel NDTV.

“He pressured me to cremate the body immediately and dissuaded me from calling the cops. “He said if you call the cops there will be a long court case, my daughter would be taken to the hospital where the police and doctors would take out her organs and sell them,” she added.

The child’s body was then cremated, Deputy Commissioner of Police for southwest Delhi, Ingit Pratap Singh said.

‘Barbaric’ and ‘shameful’ attack

The 200 million-strong lowest caste Dalit community has long faced discrimination and abuse in India, with attacks increasing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Tuesday that the alleged attack was “barbaric” and “shameful”.

“There is a need to improve the law and order situation in Delhi,” he wrote, adding that he would meet with the girl’s family on Wednesday.

Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday that “a Dalit’s daughter is also the daughter of the country”.

The four were later arrested by police and charged with rape and murder, the newspaper reported.

An average of nearly 90 rapes of girls and women were reported in the nation of 1.3 billion every day in 2019, according to data by the National Crime Records Bureau.

But large numbers of sexual assaults are thought to go unreported.

Last year, the death of a 19-year-old woman from her injuries after being allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh sparked outrage across the country and triggered days of protests.

– With AFP

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