India rape
Attacks on women are rampant in India, where rape and gender inequality are still unresolved issues. Reuters

An Indian girl has been harassed and burned alive by four men in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, after she refused to stop talking on her mobile phone.

The girl, whose identity was not disclosed, was attacked after she had gone outside to the toilet, according to the police report.

The incident took place in the village of Auraiya, 160km from the state capital Lucknow.

While she was outside, the victim was harassed by the men because she was using a mobile phone, an act considered immoral.

When the girl refused to turn off her mobile, the men allegedly retaliated by setting her on fire.

The girl was rushed to the nearest hospital but died shortly after.

"The girl's father has accused [a man called] Mukesh and three others of killing his daughter by setting her on fire when she had gone out to answer nature's call," said local police superintendent Akhilesh Chaurasiya.

The girl was from India's lowest Dalit caste, as are her killers.

Chaurasiya said that initial criminal cases have been registered against all four men, but the leader of the group has fled the village.

Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a surge in attacks against women, especially those from the Dalit caste, in recent years. The state recorded 2,500 rape cases in 2011 alone.

Last May, four young Dalit girls were raped and hung from mango trees, shedding further light on the issue of sexual abuse in India, where statics say a rape is committed every 20 minutes.

In rural areas, where the majority of people defecate outside, women are particularly exposed to sexual violence and harassment every time they go out to relieve themselves. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month that India should strive to ensure every household has a toilet within four years.