Arrests made in eastern India gang rape case, highlighting ongoing struggle against sexual violence

By Christian Today India |
Steven Lewis | Unsplash
Police in Jharkhand arrested the seven men suspected in the gang rape of a foreign tourist and the assault of her husband last week. The incident highlights India's ongoing struggle to combat sexual violence against women, a challenge that has persisted for decades.

The couple, who were travelling by motorcycle from West Bengal to Nepal, were discovered by police on patrol late Friday (March 1, 2024) in Dumka district. They were subsequently taken to a hospital, where the woman revealed that she had been raped.

Three of the seven suspects were arrested over the weekend, while the remaining four were arrested on the night of March 4.

The names of the couple have been intentionally withheld.

The arrests were made following a video posted by the couple on Instagram on Friday where the woman recounted the harrowing details of the assault. She displayed bruises and wounds on her face, stating, “Something has happened to us that we would not wish on anyone. Seven men have raped me,” said the woman who hails from Brazil in her Instagram story. “They have beaten us and robbed us, although not many things, because what they wanted was to rape me. We are in the hospital with the police.” She was taken for a DNA testing at a hospital.

Media reported that the couple spoke to the police for at least two-hours on Tuesday before they continued their journey to Nepal.

The couple are on a world expedition tour and have visited 66 countries and covered 170,000 km of road travel before reaching India.

In response to the incident, India's National Commission for Women (NCW) promptly condemned the alleged assault and extended support to the victim. Additionally, Jharkhand minister Mithilesh Kumar Thakur condemned the attack and promised decisive action against the perpetrators.

The top court taking suo moto cognizance ordered the police to file the progress report in the case.

“The incidents of crime of any kind against a foreign national may have serious national and international repercussions, including impacting the tourism economy of the country,” the court observed.

“A sex-related crime against a foreign woman is likely to bring adverse publicity to the country, thereby tarnishing the image of India across the globe,” the court added.

This incident underscores India's ongoing struggle to address widespread violence against women, with several high-profile cases involving foreign nationals drawing global attention in recent years. Despite legal reforms enacted in the wake of public outcry, rape remains alarmingly common in the country, with many cases going unreported due to social stigma and cultural taboos.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, there were 31,516 recorded rape cases in 2022, averaging 86 cases per day. However, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher than recorded and reported.

While legislative changes have broadened the definition of sexual offences and imposed harsher penalties, advocates argue that systemic challenges continue to hinder justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators. The enduring prevalence of sexual violence highlights the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect women and promote gender equality in India.

Originally published by Christian Today India