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Published: Tuesday August 26, 2014 MYT 6:55:02 PM
Updated: Tuesday August 26, 2014 MYT 6:56:05 PM

Indian schoolgirls commit suicide over sexual harassment - report

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Two teenage girls in northern India committed suicide by drinking fruit juice laced with poison and left notes saying they were being stalked and harassed by a group of youths, the Times of India reported on Tuesday.

The two girls were rushed to hospital after losing consciousness while studying on Monday at an education centre in Rohtak, a district on the outskirts of the capital, but later died, the report said.

Police said preliminary investigations suggested they had taken poison and a post mortem would be conducted on Tuesday to confirm the cause of death.

Two suicide notes, written by the girls and found at their desks at the education centre, said they were being stalked and sexually harassed by a group of young men on motorcycles, police said.

"There are a few descriptions like registration number of motorcycles, which will lead us to the culprits. We have some inputs from their fellow students as well. We are hopeful of reaching out to culprits at the earliest," Rohtak Deputy Police Superintendent Karan Goyal was quoted as saying.

In their suicide note the teenagers warned that more girls would commit suicide if the rise in the number of cases of harassment and stalking against girls and women were not addressed, the Times of India said.

Reports of crimes against women, such as rape, dowry deaths, abduction, sexual harassment and molestation, rose by 26.7 percent in 2013 from 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Police say more women are reporting such offences because there has been greater public awareness of the issue since the high-profile gang rape and murder of a young woman on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012.

The case sent shockwaves across much of urban India and led to thousands of people joining street protests against the rise in violence against women in this patriarchal, conservative nation.

It also led parliament to enact stiffer penalties for crimes against women, including death for repeat rape offenders, criminalising stalking and making acid attacks and human trafficking specific offences.

(Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covers underreported humanitarian, human rights, corruption and climate change issues. Visit www.trust.org)

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