Indian cops mocked dad of rape victim
SOHAN Lal went to the police station in his northern Indian village around midnight, desperate to find his 12-year-old daughter after his brother saw her abducted at gunpoint. He said the two officers on duty mocked him, ripped up his complaint and told him to come back in the morning.
Sohan Lal persisted, begging them to act. Hours later, the head constable of the village told him that his daughter and 14-year-old niece were hanging from the branch of a mango tree in a field about a kilometre from his home.
Worried that the police would say the teens killed themselves, hundreds of villagers prevented the officers from taking down the bodies for 12 hours, until they arrested the suspects.
"I have no faith left in the police - they've brought me nothing but grief," said Sohan Lal, who later found out the girls were also raped, recounting the incident while hunched over on the floor of his roofless home amid the 46 deg C heat. His last name is being withheld under a law that grants victims anonymity.
"Just like the public saw my daughters swinging from that tree, I want to see those men hanged in the exact same manner for everyone to see," he said, referring to the alleged perpetrators.
The latest rape case to shock India and draw outrage from across the political spectrum shows how the poorest and most marginalised in the nation must battle to get justice.
"This is a case that has disgusted people because of the brutality of what they did, but also because it highlights how the police treat people," said Naresh Saxena, who advises the United Nations on governance in India and is a former senior government official in Uttar Pradesh, the state where the attack took place.
"Generally, in India, the police look down on the poor or those (with) lower social status."
India's police are the most corrupt institution in the country after political parties, according to Transparency International's 2013 Global Corruption Barometer report, which surveyed 1,025 people in the nation. Only about 5 per cent of police officers are women, according to data from India's Ministry of Home Affairs.
On average, a woman is raped every 21 minutes in India, with police records showing the number of reported rapes has risen by almost two-thirds in the last decade.
In northern India, six out of 10 women said they don't feel safe leaving the house at night, compared with 40 per cent nationwide, according to the results of a Gallup survey published last month.
The two teens had apparently gone into fields last Tuesday night to relieve themselves because their home, like most in the state's Badaun district, did not have toilets.
The police have arrested five people in connection with the attacks on the girls, and a federal police investigation has been ordered. An autopsy confirmed that the girls had been gang-raped and hung from the tree after they were strangled, Saxena said.