Two more women have been found dead, hanging from trees in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.
A 19-year-old woman was found hanged in the country’s northern state Thursday. Her family told reporters she had been raped but an autopsy has not yet been performed to confirm the claim, according to BBC News.
"The body was strung up using the girl's dupatta (long scarf)," senior police superintendent Ashutosh Kumar told Sky News.
The grisly discovery came just one day after the body of a 44-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree in the state’s Bahraich area. Her husband claimed she had also been raped although her autopsy proved inconclusive.
Police say the woman was targeted in the attack because she had led an effort to halt the sale of alcohol in her village. Four suspects have been arrested and police are looking for a fifth.
These two recent attacks closely follow last month’s discovery of two teenage sisters found gang-raped and also hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh.
Three suspects have been arrested and are being held in that case, along with two policemen who are charged with conspiracy and dereliction of duty for not doing more to investigate the crime.
Last month’s crime spurred angry protests from villagers who felt officials were not doing enough to protect the area’s poor.
"We are scared," said Renu Devi, a woman in the village where the attack occurred.
"If this could happen to them, it could happen to us also,” she told CNN.
The girls hanged last month had reportedly left their home to venture out into a field to use the bathroom because their house did not have plumbing.
"There's no toilet. Where can the girls go?" said another villager. "No one has done anything for sanitation.”
This recent spate of rapes underscores a problem in India that has only recently come to light. In 2012, the world was shocked by reports that a 23-year-old woman had been gang-raped and murdered on a crowded New Delhi bus.
In response, the Indian government passed stricter anti-rape laws. But experts, like Divya Iyer of Amnesty International, say those laws have had minimal effect.
"Laws can only do so much when you have to end something which is as endemic and as entrenched as violence against women," she said.