The child was lured into a school bathroom by a 20-year-old man, who tried to claim a younger age. Both victim and attacker are Muslim, but from different sects. For Bishop Ivan Pereira, the Church works “a lot on education, putting ourselves on the side of the people.”
Srinagar (AsiaNews) – The rape of a three-year-old girl in Kashmir is "an outrage", said Mgr Ivan Pereira, bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, in a strongly worded condemnation of the sexual violence against the child.
The incident, which became public yesterday and sparked street protests, “shocked everyone,” the prelate said speaking to AsiaNews. “Such a tragedy is an act against humanity. The authorities do not protect or take care of girls. The Church is against violence against women and girls."
After the case became front-page news yesterday, thousands of people took to the streets, demanding the death penalty for the rapist.
As clashes broke out with the police, rioters blocked the highway, whilst security forces resorted to tear gas and shotgun pellets (which are banned but still used by Indian forces). At least a hundred people were injured, on both sides, police sources report.
The graphic depiction of the assault has inflamed passions. The girl, whose name is unknown, was lured into a school bathroom, in the village of Sumbal, and raped. On 8 May she was taken to hospital in critical conditions, but her condition remains stable.
In an attempt to cover up evidence, the family of the rapist, a 20-year-old youth who works at a car repair shop, produced a fake birth certificate showing he was 13, hoping to avoid a possible life sentence. This instead outraged people.
"Both victim and attacker are Muslim but belong to two different sects," said Mgr Pereira. "Probably someone is trying to exploit the situation to their advantage. For this reason, the government has called on people not to provoke violence in the name of religion.”
"As a Church, we do everything we can to educate respect for others, raise awareness of the value of women, and develop a sense of security among girls," he explained.
"We work a lot on education, putting ourselves on the side of the people. We have women's empowerment programmes, women's training programmes, etc.”