Saturday, February 23, 2013
India has been hit by another case of sexual violence after three sisters aged 5, 9 and 11 were raped and murdered in a remote village
The three girls, who lived with their mother in Lakhni village in Maharashtra state, disappeared on February 14, 2013 on their way home from school. Their widowed mother is a poor laborer, and when the grandfather went to the police to report their disappearance there was no attempt to search for them. The police found the bodies of the three girls in an old well two days later, and recorded the deaths as "accidental". But it was only after people from the village blocked a national highway in protest against the police inaction that the state home minister finally took notice. A preliminary medical examination showed that all the girls had been raped before being killed. The girls' mother said: "The first day when we filed the complaint [about the girls' disappearance], the police didn't act on it. Had they looked for the girls, my girls would have been found. This is nothing but negligence." Asked about the compensation of one million rupees that the state government has offered the family, she responded, "No amount of money is going to bring my girls back. I appeal to the government to catch the culprits early and hang them." Arti Singh, the district superintendent of police, said that an inquiry had been launched against the inspector in charge of the local police station over the delay in responding to the complaint about the missing girls. The inspector has been suspended. The young mother's tragedy in a remote village once again demonstrated how the police in India often fail to adequately respond to major crimes, especially when it involves women and children. When a young physiotherapist was brutally gang-raped in a moving Delhi bus in December 2012, the extraordinary public outrage across the country forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to promise better policing and faster legal action to protect Indian women at home and outside. But even as lawmakers prepared to discuss a new law against sexual offenses, news of the latest atrocity, involving three young girls in a village more than a thousand kilometers from the Indian capital, was kept under a veil of silence until villagers rioted and blocked the national highway demanding a proper investigation.