'Epidemic' warning after 2 girls raped in New Delhi

A woman shouting at a policeman during a protest near the home of the toddler who was abducted and raped.
A woman shouting at a policeman during a protest near the home of the toddler who was abducted and raped.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Three men arrested in five-year-old's case but 21/2-year-old's assailants still at large

NEW DELHI • A toddler and a five-year-old girl were raped in separate attacks in New Delhi, with at least one gang-raped, police said yesterday, as activists warned of an "epidemic" of sexual violence in the capital.

The 21/2-year-old toddler was abducted from a religious event in West Delhi by two men on Friday night and raped before being dumped in a park near her home, relatives and police said.

On the other side of the city, a five-year-old girl was lured to a neighbour's house and raped by three men, a police officer told Agence France-Presse.

SHAMEFUL CRIMES

When will Delhi wake up? Till when will girls continue to be brutalised in Indian capital. Gang rape of 2.5 year n 5 year old. Shameful.

DELHI COMMISSION FOR WOMEN CHAIRMAN SWATI MALIWAL, tweeted her outrage over the attacks yesterday

An agitated crowd of more than 100 people gathered near the toddler's home late yesterday, attempting to block traffic and lambasting the police's failure to make arrests in the case.

"They (police) are not doing anything to arrest the rapists. We don't feel safe in this city and there will be a day when parents will stop giving birth to girls fearing they will be raped," an unnamed female relative of the younger girl told reporters.

The attacks come as New Delhi grapples with a grim litany of sexual attacks against women - and in recent cases, children - that have sparked outrage in India and abroad. "We have launched a manhunt for the suspects. So far, no one has been arrested," West Delhi police chief Pushpendra Kumar said of the younger girl's case. He said the child was found bleeding profusely several hours after she went missing and tests showed that she had been raped at least once.

In an attempt to catch the alleged perpetrators, the authorities have released CCTV footage of two men riding away on a motorbike with the victim.

Police have arrested three men in the case of the five-year-old victim, with tests showing she was raped multiple times. "Her clothes were partially torn, with blood spots all over them. Some locals saw her and she told them she was sexually assaulted," an officer from Anand Vihar police station said on condition of anonymity.

"Some of the locals then barged into the house and caught them (the alleged perpetrators) before handing them over to us," the officer said.

Both girls are undergoing medical treatment but are believed to be out of danger.

The latest attacks came eight days after a four-year-old girl was raped and slashed with a blade before being abandoned next to a railway track in the capital. Police arrested a 25-year-old in that attack.

"When will Delhi wake up? Till when will girls continue to be brutalised in Indian capital. Gang rape of 2.5 year n 5 year old. Shameful," Delhi Commission for Women chairman Swati Maliwal tweeted yesterday. Describing the assaults as "extremely shocking", Ms Maliwal told Indian television station NDTV that violence against women had assumed "epidemic proportions" in Delhi. India recorded 36,735 rape cases last year, with 2,096 of them in Delhi.

Experts said those figures likely under-represent the true scale of the crimes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2015, with the headline ''Epidemic' warning after 2 girls raped in New Delhi'. Print Edition | Subscribe