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Hathras case: Are Indian state police trying to discount a woman's story of rape


Hathras case: Are Indian state police trying to discount
a woman's story of rape?

Days after the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang raped and assaulted in India's northern Uttar Pradesh
state, a senior state police official appeared to imply the woman was not raped because semen was not found.

Additional Director General Prashant Kumar told reporters on Thursday that the forensic report had found "no semen or semen
excretion" in the viscera sample of the victim, and the cause of death was due to "trauma caused by the assault".

Mr Kumar also claimed that the woman's family had not mentioned rape in the initial complaint. But in fact the victim had given
a statement to the police in the presence of a magistrate in the hospital saying that she had been gang-raped. A dying declaration
by a rape victim is admissible evidence in India's courts.

And he said there had been attempts to stir caste tensions and disrupt peace by "putting out twisted facts in the media" - possibly
an allusion to the widespread coverage that the teenager, a Dalit, had been gang-raped and murdered by upper-caste men.
Dalits sit at the bottom of India's caste system and are some of the country's most downtrodden citizens. They face widespread
discrimination, despite laws to protect them.

Taken together, Mr Kumar's remarks appeared to suggest that the teenager was not raped, and that the reported absence of semen
in the viscera sample was significant evidence.

Except it was not.

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