Last week, 17-year-old Neha Paswan was allegedly beaten to death by members of her extended family in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh because they did not like her wearing jeans.
Indian girl beaten to death by relatives for wearing jeans
Her grandfather and uncles brutally beat the teenager with sticks after an argument over her clothes at her home in Savreji Kharg village in Deoria district, one of the state’s least developed regions.
“She had kept an all-day religious fast. In the evening, she put on a pair of jeans and a blouse and performed her rituals. When her grandparents objected to her attire, Neha replied that jeans were meant to be worn and she would wear it,” her mother said.
Shakuntala Devi the mother of the little girl, said that as her daughter lay unconscious, her in-laws called an autorickshaw and said they were taking her to the hospital.
“They would not let me accompany them, so I alerted my relatives who went to the district hospital to look for her but could not find her.”
The next morning, Shakuntala Devi said, they heard a girl’s body hanging from the bridge over the Gandak River that runs through the region. When they went to investigate, they discovered it was their daughter Neha.
Police have filed a case of murder and destruction of evidence against 10 people, including Neha’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and the driver of the car.
Girls and women in India face serious threats, from being at risk of feticide even before birth due to son preference, to discrimination and neglect.
Domestic violence is rampant and, on average, 20 women die every day for providing insufficient dowries.
Women and girls in small towns and rural India live under severe restrictions, with village heads or family patriarchs often dictating what they wear, where they go or who they talk to, and any perceived misstep is considered provocative and must be punished.