An 8-year-old nomad girl’s story – India
In 2018, an eight-year-old girl was abducted, gang raped and murdered in a plot to strike fear in her Muslim nomadic tribe, the Bakarwal, and drive them from the rugged Himalayan region where they live as shepherds.
Themes: Gender-based violence, social hostilities, corruption, equality before the law
In India, violence against women is a systemic problem creating vulnerabilities for all women. In 2016, 10 women were kidnapped per day in the Delhi area alone, largely for the purposes of forced marriage, forced prostitution or rape. Muslim women and scheduled caste/Adivasi women and girls are particularly vulnerable due to impunity for majority and higher caste perpetrators.
In 2018, an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl taking horses to graze was abducted by eight people. She was taken to an isolated Hindu temple, heavily sedated, gang raped by at least three men over the course of four days and starved. Her body was found three weeks later, dumped in the forest.
Police report that the crime was pre-planned and rooted in a plot by a retired government revenue officer to strike fear in her Muslim nomadic tribe, the Bakarwal, and drive them from the rugged Himalayan region where they live as shepherds.
The case ignited religious tensions. Dozens of Hindu women organized hunger strikes and threatened to set themselves on fire if the case against the men proceeded and a mob of Hindu lawyers physically blocked police officers from entering a courthouse to file charges against the men. Two ministers of the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressed support for the accused.
In 2019, three men were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for rape and three police officers were sentenced to five years in jail for tampering with evidence.