Four girls were abducted from a Christian school in India and gang-raped by around 25 armed men in a case that has renewed outrage over rising sexual violence against women in India.
The incident at the residential school run by the Evangelical Church of India in the village of Labdaghati, Jharkhand state, happened on 14 July. Masked men armed with knives and iron rods broke into the centre and tied up and gagged four male teachers and a female warden, before seizing four girls aged between 12 and 14 from their dormitory.
The attackers gang-raped the girls for two hours around 200m from the school building, releasing them at 1.00am. They were taken to hospital, where their condition was described as ‘serious, but stable’. On 16 July, police arrested eight suspects in the case and said that they were determined to catch the rest.
According to Barnabas Fund, the school, which is situated in an isolated location on a hill, runs vocational courses for 135 students, 60 of whom are minors mostly from tribal families and other marginalised groups.
In a statement, Barnabas Fund said, ‘Parliament has passed a new law toughening sentences for rapists, but the main problem, according to one Christian leader, is one of impunity.
‘He said the preferred victims are girls from tribal, Dalit or marginalised communities. These groups are vulnerable, weak; they have little social and political influence and are often defenceless.
‘Christians are certainly among the most marginalised people in Indian society. A small minority among a Hindu majority, some of whom are becoming increasingly militant, they are frequently subjected to violent attacks, for which they rarely receive justice.’
Two-thirds of India’s 27 million professed Christians are Dalits, who are at the very bottom of society.