Nearly two weeks after two teenage girls were found raped and hanged from a mango tree in northern India, a 44-year-old woman was found hanged from a tree in the same state.
The horrific incident, discovered Wednesday morning, rattled the small village in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh. Additional Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar Singh told the Times of India that the woman had been abducted and gang-raped. She reportedly was found semi-nude, hanging from a tree.
The woman’s family reported her missing late Tuesday night. She had disappeared while returning to Bahraich from the state capital, reports the Times of India. The search led authorities to the guava orchard where her lifeless body was found.
Indian news outlet The Hindustan Times reports that the "body found in Ranipur village on Wednesday, around two hours from state capital Lucknow, bore injuries on her private parts that indicate possible rape before she was hanged,” per a statement from police.
Bahraich Superintendent of Police Happy Guptan told the BBC the rape has not been confirmed. "[A] post-mortem report is yet to come," Guptan said, "after it comes out we will have more information about her death and possible rape."
Guptan also told the BBC that locals had previously threatened the woman for selling liquor in the region. Five suspects have been reported to police in connection to the crime.
Women's rights groups say sexual violence against women in India has reached "epidemic" levels, according to The Guardian.
In his first speech to parliament since being elected last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his countrymen to put an end to the attacks. "We are playing with the dignity of women. Respect for women, their security –- it should be the priority for all 1.2 billion people," Modi said.
But Modi's stance is not shared by all Indian politicians.
Earlier this month, Babulal Gaur, a member of the prime minster's political party, characterized rape as a "social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong.“