Skip to main content

Alleged gang rape, hanging of 2 girls in India sparks global outrage

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 1:08 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
  • Police say the girls were cousins, ages 14 and 16
  • The girls' families accuse three brothers of rape and murder
  • One man has been arrested; police are looking for the others
  • Police constable is accused of delaying the case

New Delhi (CNN) -- Two teenage girls in northern India were hanged from a tree after allegedly being gang-raped, authorities said. It has spurred international outrage.

The attack happened Tuesday night in a village in Uttar Pradesh state's Budaun district, said R.K.S. Rathore, a deputy inspector-general of police.

The victims were cousins, ages 14 and 16, and from the same village. They both belonged to what the police official called "backward castes," meaning they'd been born low on India's caste system that has long defined a person's place in society.

A photo from the village showed the body of one girl, dressed in a green tunic and pants, hanging from the tree. A large group of people, many of them young children, were gathered around the grisly scene.

The girls' families filed a complaint accusing three brothers of rape and murder, Rathore told CNN.

"We are investigating all possible angles and collecting evidence," he said Thursday. "So far, we have no evidence that points to any kind of enmity."

Police have been able to arrest and charge at least one of the suspects in the case as they hunt for the others.

A police constable has also been arrested over allegations that he sided with the suspects and delayed the registration of the case.

This Uttar Pradesh attack is the latest of several rapes in India that have captured the world's attention in recent years.

Twitter was full of condemnations and anger about this case and the prevalence of rape in India. One called the incident "disgusting," another said she was "speechless," and many posed questions along the lines of, "When is India going to change?"

Some suggest that the widely reported estimate of a rape being reported every 22 minutes, attributed to India's National Crime Records Bureau, is too low, because many females may not speak out or call out their assailants in what is in many respects still a male-dominated society.

The case that put this situation on the world's radar took place in New Delhi in December 2012.

Back then, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was on a bus heading back from a movie with a male friend. Police said the driver and at least five other drunk men dragged her to the back of the bus and beat up her friend.

The men then took turns raping the woman, according to police, using an iron rod to violate her as the bus drove around the city for almost an hour. When they were done, they dumped the victims by the side of the road; the woman died from her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore.

That incident energized activists and women generally, with government officials promising action to ensure that girls and women feel safe.

A public opinion poll earlier this spring found that more than 90% of respondents think combating violence against women should be a priority, second only to corruption.

Yet the same MDRA/Avaaz survey found that 75% of those Indians participating in the country's recent election believe that political promises made to advocate women's rights have been inadequate so far.

READ: Covering the rape case that changed India

READ: The girl whose rape changed a country

READ: India's 'Womanifesto:' How central are women's rights to this year's elections?

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh reported from New Delhi, and Greg Botelho wrote from Atlanta.

Part of complete coverage on
Violence against women in India
She was attacked at a rural police station, and her landmark case awakened India decades ago.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Tue January 28, 2014
An Indian army corporal suspected of sexually assaulting a 14-month-old girl has been taken into custody.
updated 8:14 AM EST, Sun November 17, 2013
Giving voice to the victims of violence has power. When a discussion builds around it, those voices gain strength.
updated 9:22 PM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
The colorful, busy streets of New Delhi are a mixture of old and new. Some people have modern attitudes, while others remain rooted in ancient values.
updated 9:23 PM EST, Sun December 15, 2013
When CNN's Sumnima Udas tells people outside India that she lives in New Delhi, she is almost always asked: "Do you feel safe there?" or worse, "what's with the rape culture in India?"
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Sat September 14, 2013
An Indian court sentenced four men to death for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, an attack that appalled the South Asian nation.
updated 9:23 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
The New Delhi rape case left the whole world wondering why India is treating its women so badly.
updated 6:10 AM EDT, Tue September 10, 2013
An Indian court finds four men guilty of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012.
updated 4:28 AM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013
I wasn't raped, but my attackers sexually assaulted and then tried to kill me.
updated 7:21 AM EDT, Wed August 14, 2013
They're called the Red Brigade, a group of teenagers who are facing sex pests head on, vigilante-style.
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Fri August 23, 2013
A U.S. student's experience of sexual harassment in India triggers more anguish and sympathy from women in India.
updated 2:11 PM EDT, Fri August 23, 2013
American student Michaela Cross says during a three-month trip to India she experienced relentless sexual harassment, groping and worse.
updated 6:29 AM EDT, Thu August 15, 2013
Months after the brutal rape of an Indian woman on a bus, have measures to address violence against women worked?
updated 4:47 PM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
New Delhi is known as the crime capital of India. CNN's Sumnima Udas talks to women there about what daily life is like.
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
There's one clear observation from the outcry to India's rape crisis: some of the voices belong to India's men.
updated 2:06 PM EST, Wed January 16, 2013
'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi weighs in on the New Delhi gang rape case and shares her experience living in India.
updated 1:41 PM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
The director of Amnesty International, India, says that execution "would just perpetuate the cycle of violence."
updated 6:55 PM EST, Wed January 16, 2013
The Delhi police bore the brunt of criticism for a December gang rape, but now they say they're changing their ways.
updated 11:34 AM EST, Fri January 4, 2013
The fatal gang rape of a young woman sparked weeks of angry protests and heated debates about sexual violence in Indian society.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
The New Delhi woman who was gang-raped died with her honor intact; her rapists will live in ignominy, actress Leeza Mangaldas writes.