Police hesitated after three sisters aged five, nine and 11 went missing on Valentine's Day in a remote Indian village. Two days later, the girls were found raped, murdered and dumped in a well. Authorities recorded the deaths as "accidental."
This is outrageous. If people from Lakhni, the girls' home village in the state of Maharashtra, hadn't blocked a highway in protest, the police might've just brushed the case under the rug. Instead, the state home minister intervened, and now, a full week later, police have finally launched a manhunt on Thursday to find the villains that brutally violated and killed three young girls. The Indian government seems to recognize the injustice and offered the girls' mother a million rupees (about $18,400) as compensation. "The police did not take the case seriously and did nothing for two days," the mother told the press. "No amount of money is going to bring my girls back. I appeal to the government to catch the culprits early and hang them."
To say that India's rape problem is out of hand would be an understatement at this point. It's been less than two months since the 23-year-old Indian woman who was gang-raped on a moving bus died from her injuries. The unnamed victim brought worldwide attention to India's growing problem with rape and violence, a problem that's only become more and more shocking with the passage of time and the resurgence of attacks. A couple of weeks later we learned about a 29-year-old woman who was riding a bus the driver refused to stop until he had taken her to a remote area where five of his friends were waiting, and they all took turns raping her. A couple days after that protestors took to the streets in the state of Goa following reports that a seven-year-old girl was raped in a school bathroom. Seven years old! We didn't think it could get much worse — not until we heard the story of the three sisters from Maharashtra, aged five, nine and 11.
Government statistics indicate that a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Meanwhile, the conviction rate of rapists is one of the lowest in the world. And despite the international outrage from the rape in December and the shock from the rapes in January, there doesn't seem to be much change happening on a local level. Addressing the larger problem of stopping criminals from raping women is one thing, but ignoring the problem is another. That's exactly what the Indian people think that their authorities are doing. "Had [police] looked for the girls, my girls would have been found," said the mother of the three girls. "This is nothing but negligence."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.