Neha Paswan, 17, was allegedly beaten to death by her own family for wearing jeans. The heinous attack occurred in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. The police have brought in four of the suspects involved in the beating and continue to look for others.
The young girl was performing religious rituals when the beating took place. Older male members of her family were offended that she was wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt instead of traditional Indian clothes.
Shakuntala Devi Paswan, the mother of the young girl, says that her daughter “had kept a day-long religious fast. In the evening, she put on a pair of jeans and a top and performed her rituals. When her grandparents objected to her attire, Paswan retorted that jeans were made to be worn and that she would wear it.”
Male relatives started to beat the girl with sticks until she was unconscious. They told her mother that they would be taking her to a hospital, but the girl never made it there. The mother found her daughter’s body the next day, hanging from a bridge over the Gandak river.
According to reports, the girl died on the way to the hospital and instead of bringing the body in the family decided to dispose of it. They tried to throw the body into the river, but it got caught on the railing and was noticed by police.
People who knew Neha Paswan say that she typically wore modern clothes. The young Indian girl wanted to become a police officer and was actively studying to achieve that dream. Neha Paswan’s father, who works as a day laborer, was helping her pay for her schooling. Her mother says that family members were trying to convince Nesa Paswan to give up her education.
The police have filed murder and destruction of evidence charges against 10 people who they believe were involved in the attack. The young girl’s grandparents, uncle, and a taxi driver who was called to bring her to the hospital have been arrested and questioned. The accused have yet to make a public statement.
Violence against girls in India is nothing new. In a patriarchal society that prefers boys over girls, young women are often the victims of unfair discrimination. Last month, in the Indian state of Gujarat, two girls were beaten by male family members for talking on their cell phones.
Girls in India are subjected to strict rules by family members. Many of them don’t have a say in what they wear, who they talk to, and where they go. Every year, nearly 20 women are killed for bringing in low dowries.
Rolly Shivhare, a gender activist, says that “it’s shocking that in the 21st Century, we are killing and assaulting girls for wearing jeans or talking on a mobile phone.” She says that the root of the discrimination problem lies in the Indian government. Politicians are known for making awful comments toward women and the message of gender equality has yet to reach many rural homes.