Two Young Girls Were Brutally Gang-raped and Murdered Within Hours of Each Other in India

The recent gang-rape and murder of two Indian girls has cast light, once again, on the problem of sexual violence in the country.

The father of one of the victims, a 15-year-old girl who was killed after she was gang-raped and mutilated, also accused the police of not doing enough to locate his daughter when she was reported missing.

The teen disappeared on January 9, as she was on her way to a tuition class in Jind district, in the northern Haryana state. Her mutilated body was recovered three days later next to a canal.

The father of the girl explained that when he went to pick her up at 10 p.m., a teacher told him she had missed class that day. He filed a complaint with the police the same night.

"If the police had done their job on the day she went missing, my daughter would have been alive, nothing bad would have happened to her," he told Al Jazeera.

The girl is from the Dalit caste. The term, which translates as "untouchable," denotes members of Indian society who are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system.

Doctors told the Indian Express that at least 19 injuries were found on the girl's body, including on her face, neck, lips and chest, amid suspicions she was raped by more than two people. Doctors added that the assailants tried to "thrust some object in her vagina" and her liver was "found ruptured."

The victim's family suspects that a boy from the same village could be implicated in the crime. The boy, whose whereabouts are still unknown, attended the same tuition class as the victim and was also missing that day.

Police arrested the boy's father and brother one day after the girl's body was found. However, they said that they are looking at different options.

A police officer said the two youths had been in regular touch for the past few months.

"They had a long chat over the phone on January 9 also, the day she went missing," he said. "It's also possible that they were abducted by some other youths. We can't rule this out as the boy is yet to be found."

Police said they have detained about 10 suspects.

Just one day after the girl's body was discovered in Jind, police recovered the corpse of a 12-year-old girl in a pond in Panipat district in Haryana state.The girl is also thought to be a Dalit, according to Indian daily The Tribune.

Panipat police chief Rahul Sharma told AFP that two men, both neighbors of the victim, had been arrested. Both confessed to luring the girl to their house, raping her and killing her.

India rape
Indian students shout slogans during a protest against the rapes of two minor girls outside the police headquarters in New Delhi on October 18, 2015. In January 2018, the gang rape and murder of two girls cast light, once again, on widespread sexual violence in the country. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Both cases have highlighted the problem of sexual violence in the country, where minors are often targeted. Officials statistics say that 36,000 minors were sexually assaulted in 2016, according to AFP.

In 2015, at least 34,651 cases of rape were reported across India, according to data released by the country's National Crime Records Bureau. The number was in decline compared to 2014, when 36,735 cases were reported.

During that year, a spate of rapes in Uttar Pradesh state—including some which saw the victims, mainly Dalit girls, being hung from trees after being abused—caused a huge backlash, with dozens of people urging the Indian government to tighten its laws on rape and to prosecute perpetrators who go largely unpunished.

The gang-rape and murder of a woman in New Delhi in 2012 sent shock waves across the nation. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medicine student, was beaten, gang-raped and tortured in a private bus by six people including the driver of the bus. The victim,who was returning home from the cinema with a male friend, was then thrown off the bus. She later died at the Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

The attack sparked widespread protests in India, where people called for tougher laws punishing perpetrators.

Four men convicted of the crime were sentenced to the death penalty in 2014. The fifth died in jail amid speculations he had been killed. The sixth, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to three years in jail.

Last November, Human Rights Watch released a report on the challenges rape survivors face in India. The organization said that, in spite of Indian laws punishing police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault, some officers still failed to file a First Information Report (FIR), particularly when victims hail from socially marginalized communities, like those from the Dalit group.