Indian girl killed for wearing jeans to religious ceremony by her own family members. Neha Paswan, 17, pays the ultimate price going against traditional female stereotypes.
Neha Paswan, 17, was allegedly beaten to death by her grandfather and uncles last week after she had refused to change out of jeans and into traditional clothing during a religious festival.
Her body was found hanging from a nearby bridge in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the nation’s least developed regions, the next morning.
Her mother, Shakuntala Devi Paswan told the BBC: ‘She 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, Neha retorted that jeans were made to be worn and that she would wear it.’
She claimed the extended family had frequently complained of Neha’s attire which they deemed ‘inappropriate’ and were angered when she refused to wear traditional clothing.
On the night of Neha’s death, the argument over the teen’s attire reportedly escalated and led to the teen being thrashed with sticks and rods in their home in the village of Savreji Kharg in Deoria.
Shakuntala Devi said the perpetrators then called an auto-rickshaw and claimed they were taking unconscious Neha to hospital for treatment.
She said: ‘They wouldn’t let me accompany them so I alerted my relatives who went to the district hospital looking for her but couldn’t find her.’
The next morning rumours circulated about the body of a girl hanging from a bridge over the Gandak river, later identified as Neha’s.
Shakuntala claimed her in-laws had been pressuring Neha, an aspiring police officer, to abandon her studies in a local school, even as her father, Amarnath Paswan, worked as a day laborer in Punjab to pay for the girl’s education.
Police have opened a murder investigation into 10 people said to be involved in Neha’s death, including her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Violence directed towards women and girls
The rickshaw driver was also arrested for helping to dispose of the body.
The grandparents and uncles were detained by officers who are looking for the six remaining fugitives.
No public statement has been made by any of the accused so far.
The incident underscores the violence that women and girls face at home in the patriarchal society, where misogynistic attacks are often sanctioned by family elders.
On average, 20 women are killed every day in India for bringing in insufficient dowries, according to the BBC.
A 2018 poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that experts ranked India as the most dangerous UN member country for women and girls.