NEW DELHI — A 15-year-old girl was fighting for her life Tuesday after being raped and set on fire on the rooftop terrace of her family's home in a village outside of India's capital, police said.
The attack is just one of several recently reported cases of rape against women or children in India — underlining the persistence of such violence despite a public outcry three years ago that led to stronger laws to prevent sexual assault.
In the latest case, police have arrested a 20-year-old man for allegedly raping and attempting to burn the girl to death Monday in Tigri village, near the New Delhi suburb of Noida, Constable Yadram Singh said.
According to Singh, the man "had burns on his hands" and was charged with several offenses, including rape, attempted murder, assault of a minor and causing grievous injury.
The girl was in critical condition with severe burns over most of her body and was being treated in a New Delhi hospital, Singh added.
The teen told police the man had been stalking her for months, Singh said.
India's women and children are considered particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment thanks to widespread social taboos against speaking about sexual assault. The stigma is enough to keep many from even reporting crimes, while many others face police resistance in filing complaints.
Experts say that has started to change since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012 triggered national anger and demands that more be done on women's safety.
The government rushed through legislation to double prison terms for rape, and to criminalize voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. But activists say more action is needed, including better educating youths and adding basic safety infrastructure such as street lights and public bathrooms.