Police in the eastern state of Odisha arrested a man this week for allegedly holding captive a teenager for 22 days, raping her and filming the incident. The survivor, aged 17, was rescued after the police were tipped off by the locals who got suspicious of the men in the poultry farm in Gatiroutpatna village, where the girl was kept. The man was accompanied by a friend, said the police. The second man is still at large.
According to the police, the accused picked up the survivor from a bus station after promising her to drop her home. Reports say the girl had run away from her home after an argument with her parents last month. The accused, the police said, took her to a poultry farm instead, and locked her up in a room for almost a month.
A police official of the Chauliaganj police station, where the accused is lodged, told the media that the men also recorded a video of the incident and threatened to kill her or post the video on social media if she tried to escape or reported them.
The locals, in the meantime, suspected dubious activities in the compound and sent a tip-off to the police. The police found the girl during a raid this week.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in Cuttack city (Odisha’s capital), Prateek Singh, told the media that a police team has been formed to find the second accused. The accused have been charged with rape and gang rape. The survivor, said the police, was produced before the district Child Welfare Committee and sent to an orphanage.
In many reported cases, the onus of sexual crimes is put on the woman because of the social stigma and difficulties in accessing justice. Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP
Narayan Shukla, the coordinator in the city of Cuttack for Childline India Foundation, a service of the Indian government’s Ministry of Women and Child Development, told Hindustan Times that the girl is traumatised. “The mental and physical condition of the victim is not good. She is very much scared,” said Shukla. “We have contacted the Childline in Jagatsinghpur district for informing her family there. We are also trying to contact her elder sister in Cuttack.”
Crimes against women take place every day in India. Latest data by National Crime Records Bureau shows that India recorded an average of 87 reported rape cases every day in 2019. There was a 7.3 percent rise in crimes against women in 2019 from 2018. NCRB data also found a surge in crimes against children by 4.5 percent in 2019.
There has been a sharp rise in crimes against minors during the pandemic. Childline Foundation recorded a dramatic surge in child trafficking as well, with around 270,000 distress calls related to minors.
Last month, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said that 13,244 complaints related to child pornography, rape and gang rape were lodged by the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal between March 1 and September 18 this year.
In September, an alleged gang rape by four upper-caste men of a Dalit girl in Hathras district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) sparked nationwide protests. The brutality of the rape led to the death of the 19-year-old woman.
However, reports of violence against women appear on Indian news almost every day. On October 16, Friday, the police in the western Indian state of Rajasthan told the media about 21-year-old youth abducting and raping a 16-year-old girl for two days. He released her and is now absconding. The police are currently on a lookout for the accused. The man, said the police, was known to the family.
Activists often say that official data on crimes against women are often just the tip of the iceberg. In August, just before the Hathras, at least six rapes and murders of women were reported in UP.
Earlier this week, local police arrested five men for allegedly kidnapping and gang raping a 14-year-old girl in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. Before their arrest, the accused also allegedly threatened to burn down the survivor’s house.
Women in India also face multiple hurdles to report rapes and other forms of sexual violence. The stigma of sexual assault often puts the onus of the crime on women and leads to victim shaming. Most often, the survivor or their families face violence and other forms of intimidation by the accused, the police or the society for reporting the crime. The conviction rate for rapes in India is just 27.8 percent—which means that out of the 100 accused, only 28 get convicted.
On October 16, Friday, two men convicted of gang raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl in UP’s Hapur district, were given a death sentence. The incident had taken place two years ago.
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