Suspicious deaths

Activists demand witness protection as two rape victims are murdered in India

A woman near the entrance of the female compartment of a suburban train in Mumbai. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Women’s rights activists are calling on the Indian government to develop a witness protection program, as two alleged rape victims have been murdered in the northern state Uttar Pradesh. While the two incidents are unrelated, their stories and circumstances are eerily similar — according to their families, both women had been subject to harassment and pressure to withdraw their complaints, from alleged rapists who were out on bail. Both victims were shot dead on the street. One victim, 18 years old, was set to testify against her alleged rapist in court later that week, while the other — a 22-year old woman — had accused a man of rape in 2013. Rape victims in India face an archaic and inadequate justice system, according to campaigners as Karuna Nundy, a supreme court lawyer and women’s rights activist. “There must be a formalised protection system in place for victims and witnesses in cases where they are under threat and facing intimidation or worse,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We also need more and better trained judges and police to deal with these crimes effectively.”

Read the full story at Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRUST).

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