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Activists of the Nationalist Congress Party hold lighted candles during a protest in Mumbai, India, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015. Scores of people protested the release of a juvenile convicted in the 2012 fatal gang rape of a young woman aboard a moving bus.
AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
Girls & Women

Protests Erupt in India After 6-Year-Old Tortured and Raped

The family of a 6-year-old girl discovered her mangled body in the Northern Indian state of Haryana on Sunday morning, according to BBC.

The girl’s body bore signs of extreme violence, including signs of gang rape, according to India Today.

The gruesome nature of the crime recalled a 2012 gang rape of a college student that sparked nationwide protests, eventually leading to new laws for catching and prosecuting rapists and those accused of sexual misconduct.

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Similarly, the death of the young girl in Haryana has set off protests in the town where the murder took place.

Police are currently questioning suspects and they believe the perpetrators live in a nearby slum, based on ongoing investigations, BBC reports.

The protesters have threatened to escalate their actions if a suspect isn’t detained by Wednesday, according to BBC. The girl’s family has called for the federal government to intervene, because of a lack of faith in local authorities, BBC notes.  

Read More: This All-Female Motorcycle Squad Is Tackling Sexual Violence in India’s ‘Rape Capital’

The family lives in a small home in Haryana on a plot of land with four other families, BBC reports. The father was out working as a rag picker — scouring the streets and landfills for recyclable goods — the night of the abduction, and the mother woke up the next morning to find the girl missing.

Sexual assault and impunity for perpetrators remain stubborn problems in India, according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2015, 34,000 rapes were reported throughout the country, but many analysts believe this is an underestimate because of enduring stigmas applied to victims of sexual assault.

This stigma is reflected in the country’s prosecution rate. Just one in four rapes result in a conviction, according to the Washington Post. This, in turn, creates another barrier to reporting sexual violence, according to HRW, because victims may conclude that if perpetrators aren’t punished, it’s not worth risking retaliatory violence or deepening trauma in pursuit of justice.  

Read More: This Girl Stopped a Child Marriage in India. Now She Fears for Her Life.

Some progress is being made in the country. For instance, courts are considering whether to make marital rape illegal, and sex with child brides was recently outlawed.   

The horrific incident in Haryana this past weekend, however, shows how much more progress has to be made.

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