A criminal investigation has been launched in India after a woman said she was gang raped by four officers at a police station, an alleged incident that comes amid reports that a teenage girl found hanging from a tree had also been raped.
The latest alleged rapes, both in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, come in the wake of international horror after other sexual crimes in the area. On Wednesday, a 44-year-old’s body was found hanging from a tree in a remote part of the state. Her family says she was raped.
And just weeks ago two teenage girls were gang raped and lynched in another part of Uttar Pradesh.
The woman who alleged she was raped by officers told reporters Thursday that she had gone to the station overnight on Monday in the state's Hamirpur district to seek her husband's release.
"At 11:30 p.m. when there was no one in the room the sub-inspector took me to his room and raped me inside the police station," the woman told CNN-IBN.
The woman filed a complaint with a senior officer on Wednesday over the attack, which allegedly occurred when she refused to pay a bribe to secure the release of her husband.
"The procedure will be followed, the victim has filed a complaint and the guilty will be arrested soon," Virendra Kumar Shekhar, a police official from Hamirpur, said.
Sub-inspector Balbir Singh said a criminal case had been lodged against four officers from the station.
The case is the latest in a string of rapes and murders in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, where the chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, is under growing political pressure over his handling of law and order.
Late last month, two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang raped and found hanging from a tree in their village. They were attacked after going into a field to relieve themselves at night because they did not have a toilet at home.
Relatives refused to allow the bodies of the girls to be cut down from a village mango tree until police took up the case. Three suspects have been arrested and two policemen held on suspicion of attempting to cover up the crime.
Meanwhile, a postmortem was being conducted Thursday on the body of a 19-year-old woman believed to have been gang raped and murdered in Uttar Pradesh.
On Wednesday another woman was found hanging from a tree near the state’s border with Nepal. Police have opened a murder investigation into that case but were still awaiting the findings of an autopsy to determine whether the 45-year-old victim was raped before her death, local police Chief Happy Guptan said.
Reports of the attacks have led to global outrage over sexual assault in India. Lawmakers and activists from more than 100 countries gathered in London for a four-day summit this week aimed at combating sexual violence in war zones and eliminating what experts have called a “culture of impunity.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged all politicians to work together to protect women — his first comments on the issue since the hanging of the girls sparked public outrage.
Modi warned politicians against “politicizing rape,” saying they were “playing with the dignity of women,” in his first speech to parliament since winning a landslide general election victory last month.
“Respecting and protecting women should be a priority of the 1.25 billion people in this country. All these incidents should make us introspect. The government will have to act. The country won't wait and people won't forget," Modi told lawmakers, urging politicians not to speculate publicly on why rapes are committed.
India brought in tougher laws last year against sexual offenders after the fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of violence against women.
Al Jazeera and wire services