A 23-year-old woman in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh died Friday, a day after she was set on fire as she traveled to testify at the trial of two men accused of raping her, according to police.
The unidentified woman died Friday night of cardiac arrest at a hospital in New Delhi where she was transferred Thursday, said Poonam Dhanda, administrator at Safdarjung Hospital.
Before she died, she told police she was attacked on the way to the railway station in Unnao, where she and the alleged rapists are from, according to local senior police official Gaurav Kumar Tripathi.
The woman suffered burns to 95% of her body, Dhanda said.
The woman told police that the two men, who stand accused of raping her in March, were involved in Thursday’s attack, along with their respective fathers and a nephew. One of the two accused rapists was out on bail, and the other one had been on the run, police told CNN.
The woman was set to travel to the town of Rae Bareli – where the alleged rape took place in March – for the trial.
Official charges have not been filed for Thursday’s attack, but the five men were initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and criminal intimidation, based on the woman’s account of the incident. They are now being held under suspicion of murder, police said.
On Wednesday, the chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, blamed holes in the legal system that allowed dangerous perpetrators out on bail.
“There are so many times that rapes have happened, and these rapes have happened by people who were already convicted of rape or who were already involved in a rape case and were out on bail,” she said. “How do you ensure systems till the time, how do you ensure detriments until the time. There are no systems.”
Maliwal spoke to CNN following the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman in the city of Hyderabad last week.
India is grappling with an endemic problem of sexual violence against women.
Sexual assault in India has in the past been seen by authorities as more of a social and cultural issue rather than a concern for law enforcement, according to women’s rights activists, with existing laws failing to protect women.