A 16-year-old Indian girl who was gang-raped by two men and set on fire has died in hospital, police told AFP on Tuesday.
The girl was a Dalit, the lowest in the Hindu caste system that suffers from disproportionately high levels of sexual violence in a country with high crime rates against women.
Her death on Monday came less than a week after two Dalit sisters, ages 15 and 17, were found hanging from a tree after they were sexually assaulted and murdered by six men.
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The two incidents took place in the impoverished northern state of Uttar Pradesh, home to about 230 million people, where similar crimes regularly make headlines.
In the latter case, a girl from a rural area was said to have been attacked by two men and set on fire earlier this month.
She was taken to a hospital in the state capital Lucknow where she succumbed to her injuries on Monday.
“We arrested the accused within two hours of reporting the incident and reassured the family of appropriate follow-up measures against the perpetrators,” local police chief Dinesh Kumar Prabhu told AFP.
Prabhu said police have since been deployed around the girl’s home “to check for any untoward incident”.
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In previous cases, lower-class families were threatened or attacked to prevent them from testifying.
Activists say the police often fail to take the accusations made by the marginalized community seriously, and that they lack recourse to legal representation.
Last year, the Uttar Pradesh authorities’ cremation sparked widespread outrage before the autopsy of a Dalit rape victim murdered by an upper-caste Hindu man.
Nearly 32,000 cases of rape were reported in India in 2021, according to government figures, but many more are believed to go unreported.