Gang rape videos are being sold in a northern Indian state, according to authorities who believe rapists are using cellphone clips as a way to keep their victims quiet.
The Times of India first reported on the recordings, which are fetching 50 to 150 rupees, or 75 cents to $2, in Uttar Pradesh, which has seen a spate of recent rapes that have triggered public calls for its chief minister to resign. The clips are being sold "under the counter", according to the newspaper, to people who come with a customer's "reference", and also via social media. They range in length from 30 seconds to as long as five minutes.
"Porn is passe. These real life crimes are the rage," an unnamed shopkeeper in Agra, home of the Taj Majal, told the Times of India. It reported that police believe the videos are used as blackmail, to prevent victims from reporting the crimes, or to pressure them into further acts.
India's problem with sexual violence has generated intense scrutiny since the fatal 2012 gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus. Mass protests erupted, forcing the government to respond with stiffer penalties. Repeat rape offenders can now be sentenced to death, and stalking has been criminalized.
Uttar Pradesh is among the most dangerous states in India for women. In 2014, there 337,922 reports of violence against women, a 9 percent jump from the previous year, according to official statistics.
Last week, a woman and her 14-year-old daughter were dragged from their vehicle at gunpoint and gang-raped for hours, Reuters reported. And this week, according to the Indian Express, the gang rape of another woman was recorded on a mobile phone. The term #LawlessUP has been trending on Twitter, as calls for Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to resign amplify. On Thursday, nine men were arrested for allegedly downloading and selling the videos, International Business Times reported.
Reuters contributed to this report