A 16-year-old Indian girl has died eight days after setting herself on fire following two gang rapes and a campaign of intimidation to force her to drop charges against her attackers.
The teenager’s death, on New Year’s Eve, led to angry demonstrations in Calcutta.
Brinda Karat, one of India‘s leading women’s rights campaigners, accused the local government and police of shielding the alleged perpetrators, who were linked to West Bengal‘s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress.
She said the case showed little had been done to protect sexual assault victims since the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student provoked outrage throughout India one year ago.
The anger of the victim’s family and women’s rights campaigners was compounded when local police tried to cremate her body without the family’s permission.
The girl was first attacked in October in Madhyamgram, near Calcutta, by six men. They raped her again the following day as she returned from reporting the assault at a police station with her father.
The men were arrested but the girl and her family continued to receive threats from their associates. The girl set herself on fire after two associates of the accused arrived at her home and threatened her.