A recent incident of gang-rape and assault on a 19-year-old girl in India’s Uttar Pradesh state evoked widespread public protests and condemnation. The teenager died on 29 September. In another case in the State, a 22-year-old woman died after two men allegedly raped her.

Expressing concern over the continuing cases of sexual violence against girls and women, the United Nations (UN) office in India has underlined the need to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice speedily in view of recent incidents in Uttar Pradesh.

In a statement, the UN Resident Representative in India Renata Dessallien said the recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balrampur state were another reminder of the gender-based violence in the country.

“It is essential that authorities ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily, and that families be empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counselling, healthcare and rehabilitation,” Dessallien said on Monday.  

Police have come under criticism for cremating the body of the teenager from Hathras district in the early hours of 30 September, allegedly without the permission of her family.

The police had also fortified the village, located some 200 kms from national capital New Delhi, and stopped lawmakers and media from approaching the victim’s family.

The family of the victim claimed they were held hostage by the local police and had their mobile phones seized.

Following widespread protests, the state government ordered a probe by the federal agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and lifted the siege of the village.

The family has demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

According to the latest data released by the federal National Crime Records Bureau, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of cases of crime against women in 2019.

The state registered 59,853 cases, which accounted for 14.7 percent of the national total.