The gang rape and murder of two Indian girls, teenaged sisters, in Uttar Pradesh early last week has led to five arrests, authorities say. Images of the girls hanging from a mango tree in Katra village prompted national and international outrage and calls for justice in a nation that has seen rape on the increase, with a disquieting number of cases against teenaged girls.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) May 31 that a third suspect had been arrested in the gang-rape of the sisters on Saturday. Reportedly cousins, CNN would report the following day that they were brothers.
It was also reported that the three confessed to raping the girls. However, that confession did not include killing them.
According to police spokesman Mukesh Saxena, all five known suspects in the gang-rape and murder have been arrested. Two police officers were also arrested, while two others were fired. Police say that two of the officers may have been somehow involved in the crimes committed against the sisters. All could possibly face charges of charges of conspiracy in the crime and negligence of duty.
The girls were found hanging from a mango tree Wednesday. Angry villagers surrounded the tree and refused to let police cut the sisters down until arrests were made.
Apparently, some of the villagers had witnessed the abduction prior to the rapes and subsequent murders. Saxena said witnesses had been unable to stop the attackers. A relative that had attempted to intervene had been threatened at gunpoint by one of suspects.
Local police were accused of collaborating with the attackers when they failed to respond to the various reports that the young girls had been abducted.
Uttar Pradesh was home of the 23-year-old medical student who was gang-raped in December 2012 in India's capital, New Delhi. That tragic incident gained international attention for its brutality and brazeness, happening as it did on a public bus. It also prompted, according to CNN, sweeping legal reforms that included stricter laws and harsher punishments for violence against women.
But sex crimes and gang-rapes are prevalent throughout India. In fact, a gang-rape in Uttar Pradesh on the same day the sisters' bodies were found occurred in Sarai Meer, Sky News reported. Four men were alleged to have committed the crime, with one quickly arrested following the incident.
Attacks aren't limited to just native Indians. A female Danish tourist stopping to ask directions to her hotel was attacked and gang-raped by at least seven, perhaps eight, men in January in New Delhi.
The Washington Post reported, citing statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau, that rape cases over the past four decades had increased an astonishing 900 percent by 2012. A rape occurs in India every 22 minutes.
How to explain the rise in violence and sexual assaults against women in the world's second most-crowded nation? Dehumanizing lower castes in the nation's social hierarchy, the widespread practice of police dismissing sexual assault cases, and the general indifference of leaders and authority figures about sex crimes against women contribute heavily to the ongoing problem.
A case in point: The head of the state’s government party said at an election rally that he opposed a law calling for the execution of gang-rapists.
“Boys will be boys,” Mulayam Singh Yadav said at the rally. “They make mistakes.”
Still, there are citizens of India that disagree -- like so many of the Katra villagers that insisted on justice for the two sisters.