By Rupam Jain and Tommy Wilkes
NEW DELHI, July 20 – Three men accused of raping an Indian woman for a second time were due in court on Wednesday, police said, while the victim’s father said his daughter was determined to pursue the case despite the state’s failure to protect her.
Prosecutors accuse the men of raping the woman, a 20-year-old member of the lower-caste Dalit community, in the north Indian city of Rohtak last week.
The men include two who were arrested for raping her in 2013 and currently out on bail as the case edged its way through India’s creaking legal system, police said, while the third was also accused of the earlier attack.
“We will be collecting DNA samples from the victim and the three accused to ascertain whether the allegations are true… The three arrested, they are the same men who had raped her earlier,” said Pushpa Khatri, the investigating officer, adding that the woman was in a stable condition.
The family have told Indian media that the men had threatened to rape her again as “punishment” for not agreeing to an out-of-court settlement.
Sexual violence against women is a highly sensitive issue in India, where the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 sparked deep soul-searching about entrenched violence against women and the failure of authorities to protect them.
India has enacted tougher jail sentences for rapists and promised to try those accused through “fast-track” courts but rape, acid attacks and domestic violence remain common.
An inefficient and underfunded judicial system, particularly outside big cities, and a patriarchal society also mean many victims are scared to come forward and when they do prosecutions move slowly, if at all.
Members of the Dalit community, who occupy the lowest-rung of India’s centuries-old social hierarchy, can find it particularly difficult to seek justice because of their poor economic status.
The three accused in the Rohtak case will appear in court on Wednesday where police will ask for them to be remanded in custody so they can continue their interrogations, said Sanjay Kumar, Rohtak police inspector general.
The victim’s father told Reuters that his daughter was determined to fight the case and after the second incident had told him: “I will not give up.”