(By Siobhán O’Grady) 3 girls, 1 week: Teens raped, set on fire in India.
Over the course of a week, three teenage girls in India have been raped and set on fire — killing two of them and leaving a third in critical condition.
In the latest attack, police said a 16-year-old girl in Madhya Pradesh was doused in gasoline and burned alive on Thursday after warning her rapist that she would tell her family he had sexually assaulted her, according to CNN.
Relatives mourn following the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl last week at Raja Kundra village in Chatra district of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. (AFP/Getty Images)
The violent attacks are believed to have been carried out by three different groups of men with no connection to each other.
Sexual violence has dominated headlines in India in recent months and led to a national moment of reckoning reminiscent of the protests that rocked the country after a student was gang-raped on a Delhi bus in 2012.
The first of the three girls set ablaze this month was kidnapped from her home last Thursday in Jharkhand while her family attended a wedding. The girl’s father demanded retribution through his village council, which ordered four of the accused men to do 100 sit-ups each and pay the girl’s family a little more than $700. In retaliation for reporting them, the same men broke back into her family’s home last Friday, beat her parents, and set the girl ablaze, killing her. At least 20 people are being investigated for that attack, and officials said they are also seeking to punish the village council for “trivializing” the rape in their original verdict.
Last Saturday, also in Jharkhand state, a 17-year-old girl who had rejected an older man’s marriage proposal was raped and allegedly set on fire by the same man. She suffered burns over 95 percent of her body and remains in critical condition.
Calls for accountability against sexual assault have amplified since 8-year-old Asifa Bano was raped and murdered in Indian-administered Kashmir in January. The young girl from a nomadic Muslim tribe was tending to her family’s horses when she was attacked. Her rapists strangled her with her own scarf and smashed a rock against her head, then abandoned her in the brush. The accused men are Hindu, sparking controversy and protests in a region with long-standing tensions between Muslims and Hindus.
“She didn’t know the difference between a Muslim and a Hindu,” her adoptive father told The Washington Post in April. “She was only 8 years old.”
Siobhán O’Grady writes about foreign affairs for the Washington Post. She previously freelanced across Africa and worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy magazine.