Men in India who attacked rape victim’s mother arrested

Officials in Uttar Pradesh province say critically ill woman still unconscious

Students shout slogans against the Uttar Pradesh government during a protest against the gang rapes, in New Delhi, India, yesterday. Photograph: Money Sharma/EPA

Students shout slogans against the Uttar Pradesh government during a protest against the gang rapes, in New Delhi, India, yesterday. Photograph: Money Sharma/EPA

 

Police yesterday arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh province, after she refused to withdraw her complaint against them.

Officials said the mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was stalked earlier this week by five men, including the father and brother of the rape accused in Etawah, 390km west of provincial capital Lucknow, and badly beaten after she declined to withdraw her accusation.

Local police chief Dinesh Kumar said the woman had been admitted to hospital in critical condition with multiple internal injuries and several broken bones. She was also unconscious and unable to speak to the police.

The attack followed the May 11th rape of her teenage daughter, for which a local has been arrested.

Arrest

The girls, aged 14 and 15, were attacked by five men as they ventured into nearby fields to relieve themselves, as they had no toilets at home.

Villagers, furious at the police for declining to register a case after the pair were reported missing the night before, refused to allow the bodies to be cut down from the tree, forcing them to arrest three of the alleged rapists. Two suspects are still at large, police said.

The subject of women’s safety across India, following the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in capital Delhi in December 2012, has featured prominently in public debates, leading to tougher rape laws and enhanced media outrage.

Human rights activists said the two cases this week in Uttar Pradesh also underlined the vulnerability of Dalit women in rural India.

Tens of millions of Dalits, especially women, remain trapped in predominantly Hindu India’s rigid caste system, an ancient hereditary class order that divides society into four general categories with thousands of complex and intricate subdivisions.

Caste system

Mahatma Gandhi vigorously championed their cause and worked for their economic and social betterment. In later years they became known as Dalits.

Although India’s constitution bars discrimination based on caste, the practice continues. Indian politicians publicly condemn the caste system as “regressive” but perpetuate it by contesting elections with an eye on their voters’ caste affiliations.

Caste also dominates the lives of educated and upwardly mobile Indians.

It defines their social arrangements, particularly marriages, in states such as Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar, where Dalits remain confined to ghettoes and in some instances are not allowed even to draw water from the village well or worship in the temple.

Dalit women are frequent targets of high-caste males, and there are almost daily media reports of them being attacked.