Skip to main content

Indian family alleges gang rape, as PM Modi issues warning on words

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Thu June 12, 2014
  • 42-year-old woman found hanging from tree in India's Uttar Pradesh
  • Tests for rape inconclusive, though more being done, local police chief said
  • Follows the rape and murder of two cousins in same state
  • India's new prime minister called on ministers to stop "politicizing" rape

(CNN) -- Forensic tests on a woman found hanging from a tree in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have so far failed to find evidence of rape, a local police chief said.

More tests are being done, amid claims from the woman's family that she was gang-raped and murdered by five men, including her brother-in-law.

The alleged attack comes just weeks after the bodies of two cousins, aged 14 and 15, were founding hanging from a mango tree in the Budaun district of the same state. Of the five suspects arrested, police say three have confessed to the rape, but not murder.

Woman found in tree

Home minister: Rape is a 'social crime'
Can Modi change India's rape culture?
Was caste to blame in rape and murder?
Arrests in rape, hanging of two girls

In the latest case, the 42-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree in the Bahraich district.

Her family told police she went missing around 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, and her body was found Wednesday morning, Bahraich district police chief, Happy Guptan, said.

"We are not commenting how it all happened until our investigation is complete," Guptan told CNN.

Calls for strong political action to change attitudes and stop rape in India have grown louder since December 2012, when a student was gang-raped and murdered by attackers on a moving bus.

The 23-year-old's horrific injuries made headlines and started a national debate about how many rapes were happening and why.

Call to stop 'politicizing rape'

In his first address to parliament as Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the issue on Wednesday, warning lawmakers against "politicizing rape."

"I appeal to our political leaders that we should not carry out psychological analysis of rape ... Is it correct to make a statement always? Why can't we just keep quiet. Respect and security for women should be the topmost priority of the entire people," he said.

His comments came after observers seized on statements made by Babulal Gaur, the home minister of Madhya Pradesh, that rape was a "social crime" -- "sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong."

Other politicians were also accused of trivializing the crime with comments including an observation that rapes "happen accidentally," while another suggested "boys make mistakes."

In a veiled reference to those comments last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "We say no to the dismissive, destructive attitude of 'boys will be boys'. Together, we can empower more people to understand that violence against women degrades us all."

Ban made the comments while launching a video campaign on ending sexual violence through gender equality.

READ MORE: Grief, fear, blame in Indian village

READ MORE: Relatives call for attackers to be hanged

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.

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.