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Men arrested over Indian village gang rape

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Three men have been arrested after two teenage girls were gang-raped and found hanged from a tree in a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The girls were discovered hanging in a mango tree on Wednesday morning hours after they disappeared near their home in Katra village.

Initial reports suggested that the girls had been murdered by the men and hanged from the tree, however, new evidence from the post-mortem shows that it's more likely the girls committed suicide.

There is a massive social stigma attached to rape in India so it's not uncommon for many victims of rape to commit suicide.

Hundreds of angry villagers crowded around the tree for the rest of the day, silently protesting the alleged police inaction in the case. At least one of the men who was arrested over the rapes is though to be a policeman.

The father of one victim said he was ridiculed by the authorities when he sought help in finding his missing daughter. He said when the policemen found out he was from a lower caste, they "refused to look for my girl".

The victims were from the Dalit community, who are at the bottom of the caste system, and as a result are subject to widespread discrimination.

Additionally, many poorer Indians don't have access to proper toilets so the girls had headed out into the fields, which is where they were taken and attacked.

Poor access to sanitation means many women are constantly in danger of being attacked as they use the fields before and after sunlight hours.

Despite the fact that India tightened its rape laws last year, after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi in December 2012.

Gang-rape is now punishable by death but there is still a rising number of sexual assaults in the country, with many other incidents going unreported.

The stigma of rape in communities, particularly among the poor and conservative communities means that many women are forced to remain quiet.

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