A woman surrounded by other people writes on a white placard

Protesters in India call for justice for Dalit women who are victims of sexual violence

Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus, which sparked massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime.

The World

Tina Verma, 27, a social activist, makes a placard at a demonstration site outside a crematorium where a 9-year-old girl from the lowest rung of India's caste system was, according to her parents and protesters, raped and killed earlier this week, in Delhi, India, Aug. 5, 2021.

Altaf Qadri/AP

Villagers in India’s capital of Delhi held protests this week calling for justice for another rape case. It’s revived outrage over the number of gruesome sexual crimes against women in the country.

The demonstrators held placards on a makeshift stage near a crematorium where a 9-year-old was allegedly raped and killed. The case was initially passed off as an accident, and police encouraged the parents to drop any investigations, but people living nearby suspected foul play and intervened.

Police arrested four men suspected of the crime, but they have not yet been charged.

Related: France’s 2nd #MeToo movement reckons with incest, child rape

Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus, which sparked massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime. Four men sentenced to death for the 2012 attack were later hanged.

Nevertheless, such crimes persist, and according to government data, a woman is raped every 15 minutes in India.

The protesters were also calling for justice and rights for India’s Dalit community — which the 9-year-old girl was from — the lowest in the Hindu caste system.

Rights organizations say that Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and other attacks. They say men from dominant castes often use sexual violence as a weapon to reinforce repressive hierarchies, and that police frequently fail to investigate such crimes, leaving survivors and the families of victims struggling to find justice.

Related: Indian policewoman describes the hazards of being a whistleblower

“We are outraged,” Yogita Bhayana, founder of the group People Against Rapes in India, told The World’s host Marco Werman. “We want justice, and we want those police officers to be suspended, terminated forever and booked for delaying and for supporting the criminals.”

In trying to find a solution, Bhayana said, “We can't afford to lose more daughters. So, we have to work on gender sensitization. We have to teach our boys, not our girls. We always address the wrong audience.”

Click on the link above to hear the whole discussion.

AP contributed to this report.