One year after the fatal gang-rape of a young female medical student in Delhi triggered massive protests and demonstrations across India -- along with demands for tougher punishment against sex predators -- the carnage against girls and women continues unabated in the sub-continent. In the southern coastal district of Pondicherry, a 21-year-old woman suffered the horror of getting raped by two unrelated gangs of men -- on Christmas Eve.
The BBC reported that the victim was visiting friends in the former French colony when three men abducted her and one of the assailants raped her. After that ordeal, she was targeted a second time by an apparently unrelated group of men, who gang-raped her. OneIndia News reported the second gang comprised seven men.
Monika Bharadwaj, Pondicherry’s Senior Superintendent of Police, told the BBC that the victim endured a peculiarly bizarre and tragic sequence of events. "One among that [first] group of three [men] sexually assaulted her," Bharadwaj said. "When they [the victim and her girlfriends] were going back [home], they were waylaid by a second group [of men] who again picked up the victim, and she was taken to a secure place. There again she was sexually assaulted six times.”
The incidents took place in Pondicherry's port city of Karaikel. Local police have arrested 11 men in connection with the two rapes. The suspects have reportedly confessed, although they have not yet faced formal charges in a court of law. OneIndia reported that the men face charges of wrongful restraint, kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person, rape and criminal intimidation. One of the culprits is believed to be a minor, OneIndia added.
Two policemen were suspended for refusing to register the victim’s initial complaint, the BBC said, in addition to other lapses. The Bihar Prabha news website reported that the victim works for a technology firm in Chennai, which is about 100 miles north of Pondicherry. The young woman has been taken to a hospital with serious injuries, but she is reportedly in stable condition.
However, the case has taken another unpleasant twist. OneIndia reported that a local legislator claimed the victim of the gang-rape was actually a prostitute and not an innocent figure in this drama. "[A] rape case has been registered but it could be a case of prostitution,” a local lawmaker named A.M.H. Nazeem said. He bizarrely added that such incidents occur in the Pondicherry area because many young people are “depressed."
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.