A teenage girl in India was allegedly beaten to death and publicly hanged by her male family members for wearing jeans.
The mother of 17-year-old Neha Paswan said that her daughter’s grandfather and uncles attacked her with sticks in her own home after an argument about her clothes, according to the BBC.
The fatal beating occurred last week in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the nation’s least developed regions, according to the outlet.
“She had kept a day-long religious fast. In the evening, she put on a pair of jeans and a top and performed her rituals. When her grandparents objected to her attire, Neha retorted that jeans were made to be worn and that she would wear it,” Shakuntala Devi Paswan told BBC Hindi.
When the argument turned violent and a gang beating left the girl unconscious, male relatives said they were calling a driver to take her to the hospital, according to the report.
“They wouldn’t let me accompany them so I alerted my relatives who went to the district hospital looking for her but couldn’t find her,” Shakuntala Devi said.
The next morning, the girl’s mother found Neha’s body hanging from a bridge over a river, according to the article.
Ten people are reportedly being investigated for murder and destruction of evidence, including the teen’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and the driver of the auto rickshaw that was supposedly taking her to be treated. Four of them have been arrested, the outlet said.
Shakuntala Devi reportedly said her in-laws were pressuring Neha, an aspiring police officer, to abandon her studies in a local school, even as her father worked as a day laborer in Punjab to pay for the girl’s education.
The horrifying case highlights the violence that women and girls face at home in the patriarchal society, where misogynistic attacks are often sanctioned by family elders, the BBC said.
On average, 20 women are killed every day in India for bringing in insufficient dowries, according to the outlet.
Last month, footage emerged of a 20-year-old woman being beaten by her father and three male cousins for running away from an abusive husband in the nearby state of Madhya Pradesh, according to the Indian Express.
A week before, two girls in the region were slapped, kicked, dragged by the hair and beaten with sticks by family members for talking to a male cousin on the phone, according to NDTV.
Police reportedly arrested seven people after the footage went viral. But video showed that onlookers failed to intervene during the attack.
In another viral June attack in the state of Gujarat, two teenage girls were beaten by a mob of at least 15 men for talking on their cellphones, according to India Today.
“It’s shocking that in the 21st century, we are killing and assaulting girls for wearing jeans or talking on a mobile phone,” gender activist Rolly Shivhare told the BBC.
“The government says girls are our priority and announces grand schemes for their welfare, but nothing happens on the ground,” Shivhare reportedly said.
“The shelter homes and crisis centers in India are few and most are so badly run that no one would want to go live there. Our government needs to allocate more funds and improve their condition.
“But the only long-term solution is to make girls more aware of their rights.”
A 2018 poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that experts ranked India as the most dangerous UN member country for women and girls.