Why are women in Pakistan and India at risk of brutal violence?

Watch above: Two teenage cousins were attacked and later found hanging from a tree in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Their father says authorities refused do anything when he reported the girls missing. Stuart Greer has the story.

The gang rape of two young cousins in India and the stoning death of a pregnant woman in Pakistan highlight the terrible state of women’s rights in these South Asian nations and their governments’ failure to protect women.

Police stood by and watched 25-year-old Farzana Parveen’s family and about 20 others stone her to death with bricks outside a courthouse in Lahore on Tuesday.

Police in the villiage of Katra Shadat Ganj in India’s Uttar Pradesh state failed to help families search for two cousins after they reported them missing. Two police men are accused of being involved in the rape and deaths of the girls, aged 14 and 15, who were found early Wednesday hanged from a mango tree.

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READ MORE: Rape victim’s mother brutally beaten in India

The families involved allege police in Katra ignored them because they came from the lower Dalit caste – formerly referred to as “untouchables.”

“When I went to the police station, the first thing I was asked was my caste. When I told them what my caste was, they started abusing me,” BBC reported one of the girls’ fathers saying.

According to reports, the police and the accused culprits are members of the higher Yadav caste.

As the New York Times noted on Thursday, there is a long history of upper-caste Hindus committing crimes such as rape and murder against those in lower castes with impunity.

“This is a never ending circle. The violence keeps coming no matter what we do,” Been Pallical of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights told the Independent on Thursday. “Every institution in this country is biased, so where do we go?”

According to survey results from Pew Research Centre, 82 per cent of Muslims in Pakistan favour stoning as a form of punishment for adultery (Parveen was killed for marrying a man her family did not approve of).

And nearly 900 women were killed in 2013 for reasons of so-called “honour,” which Parveen’s father has said was the case, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, The Associated Press reported.

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READ MORE: Pakistan stoning: Farzana Parveen’s husband says he killed first wife

As political commentator Omer Aziz noted in a column in the Globe and Mail on Friday, the English-language daily newspaper Dawn expressed outrage at the case while Urdu publications “responded more tepidly.”

India has been trying to improve its image in the international community when it comes to violence against women.

Following the highly publicized gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, Indian lawmakers made gang-rape a crime punishable by death.

But after the passage of that law, India acquitted more people than it convicted: 178 convictions versus 407 acquittals as of November 2013, according to the Washington Post.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Reported cases of rape in Delhi increase

In 2012, it was ranked as the worst country among the G20 nations to be a woman: Saudi Arabia, where women still aren’t allowed to drive, was second-worst.

“In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor,” Gulshun Rehman, a health program development adviser at Save the U.K. told Reuters at the time.

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According to The Associated Press, there is a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India.

AP also reported 30 per cent of women from poor families are at risk of violent sexual assaults each year because they don’t have access to a safe toilet. That’s what happened in the case of the two girls in Katra village, who had gone into a field because there was no toilet in their home.

It’s estimated that nearly half a billion of India’s 1.2 billion people don’t have adequate access to basic sanitation facilities.

In India’s Bihar state, approximately 400 women might have “escaped” rape if they’d had access to a toilet near their homes, senior police official Arvind Pandey told BBC in May 2013.