Indian Police Arrest Five Over Brutal Gang Rape and Murder of 9-Year-Old Girl
Police officials say the girl’s stepmother orchestrated and oversaw the violent crime.
Editor's note: This post contains graphic language and details of violence.
Yet another horrific story of sexual violence perpetrated against a young girl has emerged out of India — but this time justice may be served.
The girl’s body was found near Uri in the state of Jammu and Kashmir on Sept. 2, just over a week after her father had reported her missing. She had been raped and tortured; according to police statements, the child had been strangled, struck in the head with an ax, burnt with battery acid, and her eyes had been gouged out.
Those arrested include the girl’s 14-year-old stepbrother and stepmother, who police said orchestrated the fatal attack because of a family dispute. The 9-year-old, allegedly her father’s favorite child, was the daughter of the man and his second wife, which caused conflict in the household.
"It was found that the stepmother had been nursing a grudge against the second wife of her husband, and her children," Mir Imtiyaz Hussain, a senior police officer, told news website NDTV.
The gang rape of the child, by her stepbrother and his friends, was carried out at the insistence of and under the supervision of the girl’s stepmother, according to police reports.
The violence carried out against the young girl is the second such case to occur in the state this year. In January, an 8-year-old-girl was gang-raped and murdered after being held captive in a temple for about a week.
Yet these two shocking cases represent a tiny fraction of the many rape incidents and acts of sexual violence that have rocked in India in recent years.
The country continues to grapple with a major sexual and gender-based violence problem, despite its efforts to strengthen anti-rape laws and the recent addition of the death penalty for the rape of children younger than 12.
These issues persist due to gender discriminatory cultural attitudes that devalue the lives of women and girls. Such beliefs have also encouraged sex-selective abortions that have skewed the country’s demographics — with 112 boys born for every 100 girls — which many believe has contributed to the high rate of crimes perpetrated against women, the BBC reported.
In 2016, nearly 39,000 rapes were reported and nearly 4 out of every 10 victims in the country were minors; however, these figures are likely underestimates, as many victims do not report attacks due to cultural stigma and fear of being disbelieved or pressured to recant their statements by the police.
In this particular instance, authorities say they have “conclusive evidence for murder” and that they are building a “watertight case” against the perpetrators of the vicious crimes, Al Jazeera reported.
If you have experienced sexual abuse, call the free, confidential National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or access the 24-7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org. You can find international resources here.