Almost a year after widespread demonstrations erupted in India following the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi, hundreds of people took the streets in Kolkata Friday to again protest against sexual violence, after authorities failed to protect a teenager who'd reported being raped — twice — by the same gang. On New Year's eve, the girl died after being set on fire by her rapists two days before Christmas.
The 16-year-old girl reported the rape to police authorities over two months ago, in late October. According to police, the girl told them she'd been gang raped near her home town of Madhyamgram and then abandoned in a field. A day later, as she was coming back from filing the complaint, she was abducted by the same gang, raped again, and dumped, unconscious, by the railway tracks.
Horrifically, her story didn't end there: her rapists threatened her with violence if she didn't withdraw her police complaint, and on Dec. 23, they made good on their threat, setting the girl on fire. She died from her injuries on Dec. 31, reportedly pregnant at the time of her death.
Although investigators say six suspects were arrested soon after she'd filed the complaint — reportedly only after local residents demanded that action be taken — and another two were arrested following her admission into hospital with severe burn injuries, hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Kolkata, accusing the authorities of inaction. "Till my last breath, the sole aim of my life will be to get justice for her," her father said to BBC News. Her mother added that the girl had asked her "make sure [the] people who did this to me are hanged."
Of course, this incident is, unfortunately, far from isolated: Only two months ago, a 13 year-old died in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh after allegedly being gang-raped and set on fire by three men; a seven-year-old was kidnapped and raped at gunpoint in a sugarcane field; and a 22-year-old professional was abducted and raped by two taxi drivers in Hyderabad. And those are only the incidents that have made the news.
Since the much-publicized rape and murder of a student on a New Delhi bus last December, the Indian government has started doubling prison terms for rape and has criminalised the trafficking of women. In spite of this, of the 600 reported rapes in New Delhi last year, only one led to a conviction.