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Indian women hold candles and placards during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018.
Ajit Solanki/AP
Girls & Women

12 Photos That Show How People Won’t Stop Protesting India Rapes Until Justice Is Served

For days, thousands of people across India have protested against sexual violence and called on the government to take action following several high-profile rape cases.

In particular, the gang rape and murder of a 8-year-old Asifa Bano in a temple in Kashmir and the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh, have prompted some of the biggest demonstrations India has seen since a college student was brutally raped on a bus in 2012, CNN reported.

Though the 2012 incident and subsequent protests led to legal reforms that imposed harsher punishments on rapists and struck the requirement of a physical struggle between a victim and her attacker to qualify as rape, sexual violence remains a widespread problem in India.

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The policy changes have empowered more women to file rape complaints, but gaps in law enforcement have left some victims behind — and people are angry.

Crowds in India’s capital chanted “punish the guilty” on Sunday, NDTV reported.

The two cases that sparked the recent protests are particularly controversial as both are believed to have involved government officials.

Investigators alleged Sanji Ram, a retired government officer, helped plan the attack on Bano girl in order to drive her nomadic Muslim tribe away, ABC News reported. The eight suspects in the case pleaded not guilty on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

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But the incident has re-emphasized religious discord in the country and put pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu party. In February, senior official and state ministers of the BJP marched in support of the eight accused, all of whom are Hindu.

Read more: Despite India’s Anti-Rape Laws, Sexual Assault Is Still a Major Problem

On Friday, a high court ordered the arrest of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a BJP member of the Uttar Pradesh state parliament, for the rape of the 16-year-old girl, the Guardian reported. Though Sengar and his brother are believed to have raped the girl last June, the police reportedly did not register the case until this month. Instead, police allegedly attempted to dissuade the girl and her family from filing a report, telling her that Sengar would kill her family if she named him as her attacker, CNN reported. Police finally registered the case after Sengar sexually assaulted the girl again and beat her father to death a few weeks ago.

Still, the case only captured national attention after the teenager attempted to self-immolate in front of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s home, according to the Guardian.

Modi declined to comment on the cases until after protests erupted.

“As a country, as a society we all are ashamed of it,” the prime minister said at an event on Friday. “I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice.”

Read more: Indian Rape Survivors Are Still Subjected to Illegal ‘Two-Finger Tests’

With thousands of people supporting her cause and advocating for action against sexual violence, the now 17-year-old remains hopeful that her perpetrators will be held accountable. 

"(I am) positive, yes, I think justice will be served," she told reporters on Tuesday.

Global Citizen campaigns to amend laws and change attitudes that discriminate against women and girls. You can take action here to urge governments to strengthen their sexual violence and rape laws.


India-Rape-Protest-3.jpgA participant has the words "not in my name" painted on face during a protest against two recently reported rape cases as protestors gather near the Parliament in New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018.
Image: Oinam Anand/AP

A participant has the words "not in my name" painted on face during a protest against two recently reported rape cases as protestors gather near the Parliament in New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. 

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Indian Muslim women hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the recent rape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, in Chennai on April 16, 2018. 

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The New Bharat Foundation takes part in a candle light vigil at India Gate to protest against the growing incidents of violence against the children and women in New Delhi on April 13, 2018.

Members of the congress workers and other members of different organizations hold candles during a vigil to protest against the rape and murder of eight-year-old Asifa Bano, in Bangalore, India, April 14, 2018.

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Protesters take part in a candlelight vigil in Ahmedabad, in support of rape victims following high profile cases in Jammu and Uttar Pradesh state on April 16, 2018.

India-Rape-Protest-4.jpgKashmiri activists hold torches and march in a protest against the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, April 14, 2018.
Image: Dar Yasin/AP

Kashmiri activists hold torches and march in a protest against the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 14, 2018. The girl was grazing her family's ponies in the forests of the Himalayan foothills when she was kidnapped and her mutilated body found in the woods a week later. Thousands of members of a radical Hindu group with links to the ruling party have marched to demand the release of six men accused in the repeated rape and murder of the Muslim girl inside a Hindu temple.

India-Rape-Protest-5.jpgAn Indian girl hold placard during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018.
Image: Ajit Solanki/AP

An Indian girl hold placard during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018.

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Indian activists take part in a protest over atrocities perpetrated against women, in Mumbai on April 13, 2018. 

India-Rape-Protest-1.jpgIndian women hold candles and placards during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018.
Image: Ajit Solanki/AP

Indian women hold candles and placards during a protest against two recently reported rape cases, in Ahmadabad, India, April 16, 2018.

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Young Indian students take part in a protest in support of rape victims in India in Ahmedabad on April 15, 2018, following high profile cases in Jammu and Kashmir state and Uttar Pradesh state. Indian police have made another arrest after the alleged rape of a teenager by a ruling party politician sparked protests across the country, federal investigators said April 15.

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Activists hold placards and shouts slogan against the horrifying gangrapes of two minor girls on Friday April 13, 2018 in Kolkata, India.