The body of a seven-year-old girl who had been raped and strangled was found in India on Tuesday, compounding outrage over a series of horrific sexual attacks on women or girls.
Nationwide protests have been held in the past week over the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Jammu and Kashmir state. In the latest case, the child’s body was found on a building site early Tuesday, hours after she went missing from a wedding in the Etah district of Uttar Pradesh state.
Police said a neighbour who was putting up tents for the wedding had been detained on suspicion of luring the girl to the secluded building. Etah superintendent of police Akhilesh Chaurasia told AFP the man fled but was arrested within hours.
“We have charged him with the rape and murder of the child. We are awaiting the post-mortem reports but prima facie it looks she was strangled to death,” Chaurasia said.
BJP leader Lal Singh, who resigned from J&K state cabinet recently, leads rally demanding CBI probe into #Kathua rape and murder case.
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 17, 2018
The authorities and police face mounting pressure over a series of sexual assaults, including the Jammu and Kashmir case. That killing was in January but outrage has mounted as details of the rape emerged. Police say she was drugged and raped for days at a Hindu temple before being beaten to death. Eight men, all Hindus, have been arrested for the crime.
Police said the accused targeted the girl because they wanted to drive her nomadic Muslim tribe out of the Hindu-dominated region. Two Jammu and Kashmir state ministers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) resigned after they attended rallies organised to defend the accused.
Some activists have accused the party of siding with Hindu groups demanding the release of the arrested men. The BJP government has also faced criticism after one of its legislators in Uttar Pradesh state was arrested last week for the alleged rape of a 17-year-old woman. The woman’s father died in police custody as he agitated for the authorities to take up the case.
A 2014 U.N. report said one in three rape victims in India was a minor. Nearly 11,000 cases of child rape were reported in India in 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s latest figures.