Indian double rape: 'evidence that culture kills'

06 June 2014

ap

Anti-rape protesters: Bharatiya Janata Party activists in Lucknow, India, on Monday, faced police water cannons

Anti-rape protesters: Bharatiya Janata Party activists in Lucknow, India, on Monday, faced police water cannons

THE gang-rape of two teenage girls who were then hanged from a tree is evidence that "culture kills,"the director of Restored, Mandy Marshall, said on Wednesday.

Restored is an international Christian alliance tackling violence against women. Ms Marshall said that women were seen as second-class citiziens in India. "We need to see men treating women as equals. Until we see that, we will still see cases where women are treated as objects, and in this case, sexual objects for the pleasure of men, rather than as human beings made in the image of God."

Three suspects have confessed to the gang-rape and killing, in the village of Katra Sadatgunj in Uttar Pradesh. The two girls, cousins aged 14 and 15, disappeared on Tuesday night last week, after leaving their home to relieve themselves in neighbouring fields. Their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree the next day.

Protests over the handling of the case by the police have taken place across India. The father of one of the girls told the BBC last week that when policemen found out that he was from a lower caste, they "refused to look for my girl".

Two policemen have been accused of dereliction of duty and criminal conspiracy, and a federal police investigation is take place.

Ms Marshall said that caste had "absolutely" played a part in the case; and she drew attention also to the link between lack of sanitation facilities and sexual violence. The Church in India still had "some way to go" on sexual violence: "Lots has been written about. But it's how those in a position of power and responsibility are taking them up, or choosing to sideline them. . . When culture kills, culture has to change. This is classic case where we have seen culture kill."

There were signs of hope, she said. About 300 churches had been represented at a Call to Compassion conference in Mumbai last year, where many men had signed up to Restored's First Man Standing campaign, which asks men to speak out against violence against women.

The protests in India coincided with the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to the country. He met leaders of the Churches of North and South India. In Delhi, he preached at St James's, and visited Raj Gaht, a memorial to Gandhi.

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