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Friday, May 30, 2014 – By Dan Wooding – Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Following on the heels of the shocking case of a 25-year-old pregnant Pakistani woman who was allegedly stoned to death on Tuesday, May 26, 2014, by her own family in front of a Pakistani high court – for marrying the man she loved, comes the equally shocking news that Dalit girls who were gang-raped and hanged in an Utter Pradesh village.

In the first case, Farzana Parveen, who was three months pregnant, was killed before a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight front of the high court of Lahore, in what the family called an “honor killing.”

Police official Naseem Butt said the 25-year-old had married Mohammad Iqbal, with whom she had been engaged for years against the will of her family.

However, in an amazing twist to the story, Britain’s Daily Mail is reporting that the husband of the pregnant Pakistani woman has admitted he murdered his first wife to be with her.

“Today, the victim’s husband confessed he killed his first wife so they could marry – and revealed that Farzana’s older sister was also murdered by her family in an ‘honor killing,’” said the Daily Mail story.

“I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” Mohammed Iqbal, 45, told AFP.

Mr. Iqbal said he was spared prison because his son, who reported the murder, later dropped the charges. He then hung up his phone and has not responded to further calls, said the story.

“Earlier in the conversation, he said that Farzana’s older sister, Rehana, was poisoned by her family after her father had an argument with her parents-in-law,” added the Daily Mail. “Farzana’s stepson, Muhammad Aurangzeb, supported the claim.”

In the second case, CNN is reporting that a police officer and two other people have been arrested after two teenage girls were gang-raped and left hanging from the branches of a mango tree in a northern Indian village, authorities said today, (Friday, May 30, 2014.)

The appaling attack on the girls — two cousins aged 14 and 16 who were from the lowest Indian caste of Dalits (or untouchables) — has sparked outrage in the village of Katra Sadatganj and beyond.

“Angry villagers protested around the bodies, preventing police from taking them down from the tree for about 15 hours Wednesday, the day after the attack, said Mukesh Saxena, a local police official,” stated CNN.

“A photo from the village, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, showed the body of one girl, dressed in a green tunic and pants, hanging from the tree. A large group of people, many of them young children, were gathered around the grisly scene.

“Police said an autopsy confirmed the girls had been raped and strangled. The cremation of their remains took place late Wednesday night in line with Hindu customs, Saxena said.

“Armed police officers have been deployed in the village to prevent any further unrest, he added.”

Police under scrutiny

CNN added that the girls’ families accused three brothers of carrying out the rape and killing. Two of the brothers are now in custody, said R.K.S. Rathore, a deputy-inspector general of police. One was arrested Thursday night, he said. Police are still searching for the third brother.”

Meanwhile, Divya Arya reporting for the BBC on the disturbing scene which met villagers in Uttar Pradesh, said, “Two police officers in India have been sacked for refusing to help search for two missing girls who were later found gang-raped and hanged, authorities say.

“One officer was arrested while the other fled. Two of the suspected attackers have also been detained.

“The government has pledged to set up a fast-track court to prosecute the crime, which took place earlier this week in the state of Uttar Pradesh.”

Alleged police inaction sparked outrage in the teenagers’ village

The father of one victim told the BBC he was ridiculed by police when he sought help in finding his missing daughter. He said that when policemen found out he was from a lower caste, they “refused to look for my girl.”

The fired officers were charged with criminal conspiracy, police said on Friday.

Indian media reacts to hangings (BBC Monitoring) The incident has received top coverage on India’s main TV channels such as NDTV, Times Now and CNN-IBN.

“Uttar Pradesh Rape shockers”, reads a ticker on NDTV, which accuses the local police of being “complicit” with the attackers and quotes relatives of the two girls saying they have “no faith” they’ll receive justice.

“Lawless in Uttar Pradesh” reads a top headline on CNN-IBN, which has started its own campaign using the hashtag #StopThisShame.

“UP: 3 Rapes in 48Hrs” is the lead on the Times Now channel, which reports the growing number of rape incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

“Outrage” is the word used on the front pages of several leading English-language newspapers, including The Hindu and The Indian Express.

In an editorial, The Times of India lays the blame on the government of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh, saying the hangings “exposes the state’s slide into medieval lawlessness.”

Both cases reveal how dangerous it is to be a woman in South Asia, and all we can do is pray that something is done soon to stop this apparently never-ending cruelty to women in the region and the killers are brought to justice.

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