After a 7-year-old girl was abducted, raped, and found with her throat slit open in Mandsaur, India, on June 22, thousands have taken to the streets in outrage over the past few days.
The victim was reportedly waiting to be picked up by her parents from school when she was attacked last Tuesday. She was found in bushes near her school the following day, and was rushed to the hospital where she is now in stable condition.
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News of the incident spread throughout central India rapidly. On Saturday, demonstrators gathered in New Delhi, India, to protest the shocking incident, which took place more than 400 miles away. More people gathered Monday to continue to protest.
Two suspects have been arrested on suspicion of raping the 7-year-old and attempting to murder her, according to police officials. Many of the protesters, as well as politicians, are demanding the death penalty for the accused.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government passed the death penalty for rape in cases where the victim is under 12 earlier this year, after the rapes of an 8-year-old girl and a young woman sparked protests. However, human rights advocates have criticized the measure as misguided.
The government also increased the minimum punishment for perpetrators’ whose victims were under 16 and the penalty for raping an adult to 20 years in prison.
Although laws have become tougher, crime against women in India has been on the rise. India’s National Crime Record Bureau recorded a 12% increase in the number of rape-related cases from 34,651 in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016. The Thomson Reuters Foundation found India to be the world’s most dangerous country for women in its most recent poll.
There are nearly four rape incidents in India every hour, according to this same report; 50% of those cases involve minors.
According to the Washington Post, police in Mandsaur told reporters that the authorities are putting together a "special investigation team" and "are doing everything to get [the perpetrators] the punishment they deserve."