It's perhaps one of the most horrific stories of sexual abuse. Three sisters aged 11, nine and five years were brutally raped and killed and then their bodies were thrown in a well near Lakhni village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra.
On February 14, the day when the whole world celebrated the One Billion Rising movement to fight violence against women, the siblings, coming from financially weaker background, were lured to a dhaba, just a few hundred metres from their home, on the promise of food.
The mother of the children, who works as a domestic help, filed a missing persons' complaint that night after the girls didn't return home. The next morning, cops recovered their bodies on the outskirts of the village, next to the roadside dhaba.
Cops recovered liquor bottles near the spot where the slippers of the girls were found. Shockingly, the police then tried to downplay the deaths as a case of suicide, driven by hunger and poverty. It was after protests by the villagers that a post mortem was conducted on the three girls, which confirmed rape.
The police now say that investigations are on and they have registered a case of rape and murder. Rajendra Singh, Inspector General of Police, Nagpur Range told NDTV, "We have registered a case of rape and murder with sodomy. We have checked out 100-150 people and interrogated 10 to 15 of them."
Locals suspect that the sisters were an easy target for those who committed the crime because their mother did not earn enough to feed them. They claim that they have complained about such dhabas which illegally serve liquor and attract criminal elements.
The rape and murder of these girls is a reminder of the shocking crimes against women. Statistics say one out of every three women in the world has faced sexual violence, harassment or rape at some point of time. In India, the number goes up to two out of every three.