India, in the midst of grappling with the aftermath of the December New Delhi gang rape, has been rocked by the news of yet another horrific sex crime. On February 16th, the bodies of three sisters aged 7, 9, 11, were found in a well in Maharashtra, a region south of New Delhi. According to an Associated Press report, the local police dismissed the deaths as accidental, and refused to investigate. After two days of police inaction, “Enraged villagers forced shops to close, burned tires and blocked a national highway passing in the area for hours earlier this week, demanding justice.” While the protests put pressure on the police, a criminal investigation became truly unavoidable when a post-mortem of the girls proved that they had been sexually abused and brutally murdered. As of today, 10 teams of 30 investigators are scouring the region for suspects. One police officer has already been fired for an improper response to the crime.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Indian Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, a representative of the district in which the bodies were found, commented on the incident, “It is unacceptable. All of us have to hang our heads in shame.” Additionally, the Indian government could try acting on some of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and further criminalize rape and sexual assault. While Prime Minister Singh has reportedly sent 1 million rupees to the family of the victims, that seems like a shortsighted response to what is clearly a systemic problem.
Via the Associated Press, Images via The Guardian