(CNN) – At least seven men were arrested in western India after a 16-year-old girl claimed she was raped hundreds of times by a hundred men. It is the latest gruesome case highlighting the rampant problem of sexual violence in the country.
In a statement to the Indian Child Welfare Committee on November 11, the young woman, who was homeless, said she was raped by 400 people in the Beed district of Maharashtra state, according to the committee’s chairman, Abhay. Vitthalrao Vanave. She named two police officers in her complaint, Vanave said.
The minor was asking for money at a bus stop when three men allegedly forced her to work sexually, Vanave said.
While the number of alleged rapists would be difficult to corroborate, the young woman was able to identify at least 25 alleged perpetrators, she added.
History of abuse
The minor had tried to file a police report against a man she accused of beating her, but officers did not register the report, Vanave said.
When contacted by CNN on Monday, Beed police did not comment on the young woman’s allegations against her.
In a statement Monday, the force said it had registered cases against eight men, including a minor, related to rape and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses law, which carries harsher sentences of longer jail time. They have also registered a case under the Child Marriage Prohibition Act.
The minor said she married at 13 to a 33-year-old man who sexually abused her, according to police.
She also stated that she was sexually assaulted by her father, which eventually led her to leave both houses and sleep at the bus stop.
Women’s rights activist Yogita Bhayana said this was “the most tragic (rape) case in history.”
“This girl was tortured every day,” she said, adding that the police had not protected her. “We want strict action against all the guilty.”
The rape crisis in India
According to India’s National Bureau of Criminal Records, more than 28,000 cases of alleged rape against women were reported in 2020, one approximately every 18 minutes. Experts believe that the actual number is much higher, as many cases go unreported out of fear.
The number of reported rapes increased in the years following the brutal gang rape and murder of a student in 2012 in the Indian capital New Delhi, possibly due to increased awareness of the issue since then. Experts say the outrage has helped dispel the embarrassment of talking about rape.
As a result, legal reforms and harsher penalties for rape were introduced, including fast-track courts to hear cases more quickly and an amended definition of rape to include anal and oral penetration.
However, high-profile rape cases continue to make headlines. In September this year, the police arrested 33 men for the alleged gang rape of a girl under the age of 15 in Maharashtra.
In another case that month, a woman died after she was allegedly raped and assaulted with an iron bar in Mumbai. And in August this year, a 9-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in Delhi.