LUCKNOW, India - Indian police said Thursday they were investigating a spate of rapes and hangings in a troubled northern region, as the national women's rights body called for the state government to resign over the crisis.
India has been trying to restore its battered reputation for violence against women, but public outrage was reignited by the deaths last month of two girls, aged 12 and 14, who were gang-raped and lynched in their impoverished village in Uttar Pradesh.
On Thursday a woman said she had been gang-raped by four officers at a police station in the state, and police said they were also investigating the death of a nineteen-year-old found, like the two girls, hanging from a tree.
"The body was strung up using the girl's dupatta (long scarf)," senior police superintendent Ashutosh Kumar said, adding the incident occurred in a village in Moradabad district.
"The FIR (first information report) was lodged by the girl's brother against unidentified persons. He has alleged the girl was murdered," Kumar told AFP.
The case is the latest in a series of attacks in Uttar Pradesh whose chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is under mounting political pressure to resign over his handling of law and order.
Mamata Sharma, head of the state-run National Commission for Women, urged Yadav to resign, calling his government's failure to protect women "shameful".
"They (the government) not only fails in protecting their women but they don't even have the police in their control," Sharma told NDTV.
Failure of new laws
India brought in tougher laws last year against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, an attack that drew international condemnation of India's treatment of women.
But the legislation designed to educate and sensitise police on rape cases has failed to stem the tide of violence.
In southwest Uttar Pradesh, the woman who alleged she was gang-raped by four officers at a police station said the attack occurred as she was trying to seek her husband's release.