Christian woman raped and murdered in Madhya Pradesh

A Christian woman has been raped and brutally murdered in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The 30-year-old was raped and killed by two men on August 29 in Bakoudi village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The woman, whose name has not been released to protect her family's security and privacy, was raped in front of her three-year-old daughter. When she tried to sound the alarm, she was murdered.

Witnesses told World Watch Monitor she had suffered multiple stab wounds to her torso and had been strangled with her own sari. Her body was left naked, her screaming child beside her.

The following morning, the child's cries were heard by her grandmother, who found her daughter-in-law's body and called the police.

Two suspects, both Hindus, have been arrested. Mahesh Dohre, 23, who worked with the victim's husband, and Durgesh Potfode, 25, are residents of Bakoudi. They have both been released. It is unclear whether they will face further official charges.

The local Christian community has been shocked by the event and expressed concerns about its vulnerability to local authorities.

It is uncertain whether the attack took place because of the woman's faith, but Christian women often report threats in the area.

Christians comprise a tiny fraction of the population of Madhya Pradesh - the 2001 census put the figure at around 170,000 people, or 0.3% - and just 2.3% of the total population of India - 2011 census.

In the vast and diverse country, Christians often live freely. However, India ranks among the 50 countries where life as a Christian is most difficult, according to Open Doors International, a global ministry that serves Christians who are pressured because of their faith.

The country is No 31 on Open Doors' 2013 World Watch List, largely because of a streak of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, that envisions India as a purely Hindu state.

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