16-year-old girl says she was raped by hundreds of men in western India

In a statement to the Indian Child Welfare Committee (CWC) on November 11, the girl, who was homeless, said she was raped by 400 people in the Beed district of the state of Maharashtra, according to the CWC president, Abhay Vitthalrao Vanave. She named two police officers in her complaint, Vanave said.

The girl was asking for money at a bus stop when three men allegedly forced her to do sex work, Vanave said.

While the number of alleged rapists would be difficult to corroborate, the girl was able to identify at least 25 alleged perpetrators, he added.

The girl had tried to file a police report against a man she accused of beating her, but officers did not search her, Vanave said.

When contacted by CNN on Monday, Beed police did not comment on the girl’s allegations against him.

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 Act, which carries harsher sentences of longer jail time. They have also registered a case under the Child Marriage Prohibition Act.

The girl told police that she was married at 13 to a 33-year-old man who sexually abused her, according to the police statement.

She also told police that she was sexually assaulted by her father, ultimately leading 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 roughly every 18 minutes. Experts believe that the real number is much higher, as many do not report it out of fear.

The number of reported rapes increased in the years after the brutal gang rape in 2012 and the murder of a student in the Indian capital, New Delhi, possibly due to heightened awareness of the issue since then. Experts say the outrage has helped dispel the shame of talking about rape.

Legal reforms and harsher penalties for rape were subsequently introduced, including fast-track courts to hear rape 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 of this year, the police arrested 33 men for the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl 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 of this year, a A 9-year-old girl was gang-raped and assassinated in Delhi.

This story has been updated to accurately reflect the charges filed.


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