Once again India is in the international news for its abysmal record on sexual violence, especially gang rape, and its general rape culture.
The country has been scandalised by the case of a 19-year-old woman who died at the weekend after she was gang raped, suffering extreme violence at the hands of her attackers.
Police told local media that four men dragged the victim into a field in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where they allegedly gang raped her. She was grievously injured in the attack, suffering broken bones and her tongue was slashed and mutilated.
She was taken to hospital in Delhi two weeks ago but has now died.
The woman was a Dalit, the lowest of all the castes, formerly known as untouchables, and her alleged rapists were four upper-caste men.
Her brother confirmed her death to BBC Hindi, saying that no arrests were made in the first 10 days after the incident took place. “She was left for dead. She fought for her life for 14 days,” he said.
Dalit politician and activist, Chandrashekhar Azad, visited the victim over the weekend. His party has now called for nationwide protests over her death.
Dalits are India’s most downtrodden citizens because of the Hindu caste system which condemns them at birth to the lowest rung on the ladder of Indian society, from which it is impossible to ever escape.
They are usually darker and so are treated with impunity by the lighter, higher castes.
The woman’s family has told the Indian Express that the principal man accused in this rape was known for harassing local Dalits.
34,000 rapes were reported to police in India in 2018. This is widely accepted as falling far short of the actual numbers. In rural areas victims rarely report sexual attacks because of the shame it brings on the family.
Also, it can take many years to get justice if at all because of religious and caste issues.
In this case, with the accused being of a high caste, it remains to be seen what will happen if the case ever gets to court.
Yet again, India is outraged.