Outrage after 16-year-old girl tied to her rapist and paraded through Indian village

Ben Farmer
·2 min read
A woman holds a placard during a protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near Jammu, and a teenager in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh state, in Kolkata, India, April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A woman holds a placard during a protest against the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua near Jammu, and a teenager in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh state, in Kolkata, India, April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A teenager who said she had been raped by a neighbour was punished by being bound to her alleged attacker and paraded through her village, in a ritual humiliation which has caused outcry in India.

Film of the incident showed villagers raising pro-India chants as the pair were led around by a mob of men.

Six people have been arrested after the incident, which campaigners said demonstrated the widespread shaming of victims of sexual assault.

Members of the mob struck and spat at the 16-year-old girl as they lined her path in the village in Madhya Pradesh. Those arrested included the alleged attacker and the victim's brother, uncle and cousin.

“When I saw them doing that to her, I had tears in my eyes,” one villager called Tilak Ram Bhilela told the New York Times. “But no one could speak a word, the mob was so angry they would have killed us.”

Accounts of horrific sex crimes are commonplace in India, which has seen repeated waves of protest over the issue since the notorious 2012 rape and murder of a teen on a Delhi bus.

Yet campaigners say a culture of violence against women includes the harassment of victims, who are often considered shamed and not fit for marriage. Women are put under pressure not to report crimes and often face revenge if they do.

The teenager had told family members that their neighbour had pushed her to the floor, then gagged and attacked her. The relatives, with a number of villagers, found the man she had accused and beat him, before parading them both.

India's government promised to do more to protect women after the 2012 Delhi rape sparked outrage. Yet despite regular protests and new laws, the number of assaults on women has not abated and prosecutions languish in the backlogged courts for years.

Recent notorious cases have included the murder of a woman in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh, who was on her way to court in 2019 after alleging she had been raped. She was set upon by five men, including two alleged rapists, and set alight. She died soon afterwards.