Indian authorities detain men who allegedly set woman on fire for filing sexual assault complaint



December 04, 2018 08:07:00

Two men accused of attempting to assault a 20-year-old woman in the country’s north set the same woman on fire after she reported the incident to police, Indian authorities say.

Key points

  • Woman managed to escape attempted sexual assault
  • Family lodged two complaints to police about assault
  • Men allegedly returned, doused woman in kerosene and set her alight

Sexual assault support services:

  • 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

The woman was in a field near her home in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh state when the men, both neighbours and known to her family, accosted her and tried to drag her away, her brother Vinod Kumar said.

She bit their hands and managed to break free and escape. Her father lodged her complaint on the same day.

When no action resulted, the family lodged a second complaint.

“We waited for the police to come for inquiries the entire day but no-one came,” Mr Kumar said.

The next day, the two men returned to the field where she was working, doused her with kerosene and set her on fire, regional police superintendent Prabhakar Chaudhary said.

She suffered burns to 40 per cent of her body and was hospitalised.

Mr Chaudhary said her suspected attackers were arrested and three police officers suspended for dereliction of duties.

Activists say investigations lapse due to ‘apathy’

Women in India have struggled to secure prosecution for sexual attacks in the face of widespread police indifference, rights activists say.

After a gruesome gang rape of a young woman in 2012, India launched fast-track courts and a tougher rape law that included the death penalty.

But crime statistics indicate sexual assaults on women have risen, not fallen, since then.

Even if cases are registered, crime statistics show police files remain open for about a third of all rapes that were investigated for each year between 2012 and 2016.

Rights groups have accused Indian police of bowing to pressure from local politicians to bury investigations.

In some cases, investigations of sexual assault have evaporated out of sheer police apathy, activists say.







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