A 17-year-old Indian girl who was gang-raped committed suicide after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers, police and a relative said on Thursday.
Amid the ongoing uproar over the gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi earlier this month, the latest case has again shone the spotlight on the police’s handling of sex crimes.
One police officer has been sacked and another suspended over their conduct after the assault during the festival of Diwali on November 13 in the Patiala region in the Punjab, according to officials.
The teenager was found dead on Wednesday night after swallowing poison.
Inspector General Paramjit Singh Gill said that the teenager had been “running from pillar to post to get her case registered” but officers failed to open a formal inquiry.
“One of the officers tried to convince her to withdraw the case,” Gill, the police chief for the area, told AFP.
Before her death, there had been no arrests over her case although three people were detained on Thursday. Two of them were her alleged male attackers and the third was a suspected woman accomplice.
The victim’s sister told Indian television that the teenager had been urged to either accept a cash settlement or marry one of her attackers.
“The police started pressuring her to either reach a financial settlement with her attackers or marry one of them,” her sister told the NDTV network.
Meanwhile, the Press Trust of India reported that a police officer has been suspended for allegedly refusing to register a rape complaint in the northern state of Chhattisgar.
The woman and her husband later brought the case to the attention of a more senior officer and a hunt has now been launched for her attacker, an auto rickshaw driver.
Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women.
The real figure is thought to be much higher as so many women are reluctant to report attacks to the police.
During an address to the chief ministers of India’s states on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to bring in new laws to cover attacks on women.