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Three of four accused freed in Indian teen's rape

2023-06-11 02:47:10 source:The Washington Post author:news click:737order

An Indian court has acquitted three of the four men accused of the rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in 2020.

The teenager was admitted to hospital in Delhi after the attack in Hathras district of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

She later died of her injuries.

The case had sparked global outrage after authorities allegedly forcibly cremated her body without her family's consent.

On Thursday, a court in Hathras town said that only one of the four accused - who all belonged to a higher caste - was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for offences under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which deals with crimes against Dalits and tribal people.

The case had sparked huge protests in India after disturbing details about the alleged crime emerged.

The woman's family told the BBC's Geeta Pandey in 2021 that they found her in a field, battered and bruised, barely conscious and naked from the waist downwards. Her spine was broken, she was bleeding and vomiting blood.

She had a huge gash on her tongue, which made it difficult for her to speak. But in her statement to the police, she had alleged that she was raped.

In her "dying declaration", the 19-year-old told a magistrate that she had been gang raped and strangled and had named four of her neighbours as the perpetrators.

After fighting for her life for a fortnight, she died in a hospital on 29 September.

The investigation was later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's federal police.

The incident highlighted the rampant sexual violence faced by India's 80 million Dalit women who, like their male counterparts, are at the bottom of India's harsh caste hierarchy.

Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi, which led to huge protests and changes to the country's rape laws. But there has been little sign of crimes against women and girls abating.

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