A 12-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly murdered after she resisted rape by two caste Hindu boys at Sirkazhi on Friday.

The body of the Standard VII student was found hanging from her dupatta in a grove in Melathenpadhi village.

She had complained of taunts by the caste Hindu boys to her mother. The accused, one of them a 19 year-old and the other aged 16 years, have been arrested.

In the aftermath of the murder, there were attempts by the local media and the police to malign the girl.

“It is a clear case of atrocity against a Dalit girl, and of attempted rape and brutal murder,” said Mr. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a Madurai-based Dalit human rights organisation. An autopsy report is awaited.

“She did mention about taunts by some boys on her way to school and back. What can we do now? But won't you people help us to get justice?” asked Raju, the father of the girl, who is a labourer. The Hindu could not talk to her mother, a domestic worker.

According to Evidence, which supplemented the police report with a fact-finding study, the murder comes in the wake of dismal statistics of atrocities against Dalits within two months into 2012. The State has already witnessed 27 murders of Dalits, including nine committed by caste Hindus.

Following are the statistics under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1980. In 2007, 1,359 cases were registered, with 54 murders and 35 rapes recorded; in 2008, 1,545 cases with 34 murders and 30 rapes registered; in 2009, 1,264 cases with 27 murders and 30 rapes registered; in 2010, 1633 cases with 22 murders and 24 rapes were registered.

The figures for 2011 are yet to be released. However, according to a sample study of 336 cases filed under SC/ST Act done by Evidence, 44 Dalit murders were registered. Eight of the victims were aged under 16 years. They were raped before being murdered.

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