Authorities fear the numbers could rise after missing case of ‘severe’ gang rape of girl, 16, in BJP-ruled Odisha state
Girl, 16, says she was raped by hundreds of men in western India
A 16-year-old girl has said she was raped hundreds of times by men in her western Indian state, describing in a WhatsApp video how her mother protected her and saved her.
The alleged rape of the teenager came as a blow to critics of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party who have accused it of softening a tough law against child sexual abuse and calling for more welfare programmes for women.
The girl, who says she was raped for almost a year, was taken to a hospital in Odisha state, about 1,500 miles (2,300km) west of New Delhi, according to the Times of India.
The girl says in the video, in which her face is blocked by a bedsheet, that her mother was a relative of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She said her father was from a village in Rajasthan.
She said: “Please rescue me and send help. I am talking to you from my mother’s home. My sister, my cousin, also my house have been looted. I have been raped hundreds of times by several men.”
The boy has told local news reports that his brother, father and other relatives had to flee after taking him to a forest at midnight, where he was drugged and taken to a deserted place where he was assaulted.
The police said the accused raped the girl so many times because she had made four statements with insufficient details.
Local police commissioner, K.N. Dash, said the girl had told them her sister and cousin had also been raped by local men.
A day before the girl went missing, she had given a statement saying she was not raped and her family had harassed her, local media reports said.
“The girl was threatened with dire consequences if she made any statements about her mother and cousin being raped,” Dash told local media. “She may have also been coaxed by a village elder.”
The New Delhi-based advocacy group Indian Women’s Forum condemned the treatment of the girl.
“This is the second serious incident of sexual violence against the minor daughter of the senior Congress leader in a month. Neither the victim, nor her family has reported the matter,” the group said.
The government made changes to the law against sexual assault last month, including scrapping the three-year age limit for adult rape prosecutions and reducing the charge of “outraging the modesty” of a woman to a simple offence.
Sexual violence has emerged as a huge political issue in India since hundreds of women were assaulted on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, triggering nationwide protests.