India reels as 18 men charged with repeatedly raping 12-year-old girl

Sexual violence against women is an ongoing problem in India.

Sexual violence against women is an ongoing problem in India. Photo: Getty

Eighteen men have appeared in court in the southern Indian city of Chennai on charges of repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl over seven months.

The men were reportedly all workers at an apartment block where the girl lived. Some worked as security guards, lift operators and plumbers.

Police say the alleged rapists range in age from 23 to 66.

They allegedly waited for the girl to come home from school before taking her to secluded areas in the gated community, including the gym and the basement, to rape her.

Chaotic scenes of violence erupted outside the Chennai court where the men were brought for their first hearing.

The suspects were beaten by a group of lawyers who attacked them in a staircase after the initial hearings.

A local lawyers association told the media it was refusing to allow its members to represent any of the men in court.

Police say the men sometimes tied a belt around the girl’s neck and covered her eyes before raping her.

Local media said the girl was sometimes injected or given drug-laced soft drinks before being raped by the men.

The court heard the girl was threatened at knifepoint and told by the men that they would share videos of them raping her if she complained.

Just a day earlier, reports emerged of a six-year-old girl being raped outside a temple in New Delhi and left to die on the street.

She had been living with her father – a rickshaw-puller – and stepmother on the streets by the temple. She was kidnapped and raped, before being discovered bleeding in the street.

She was taken to hospital for extensive surgery to repair damage to her internal organs.

The chief of the Delhi Commission for Women appealed directly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the death penalty was imposed on anyone found guilty of the child’s rape.

100 cases of rape reported every day

In India, the stigma associated with being sexually assaulted often deters women and girls – as well as boys and men – from reporting abuse.

Despite this, more than 100 cases of rape are reported in India every day, according to recent data from the National Crime Records Bureau.

The capital, New Delhi, earned the dubious title of “rape capital of the world”, after the case of a 23-year-old university student who was gang-raped on a Delhi bus and died of her injuries sparked nationwide protest and international headlines.

Last month, a report from Thomson Reuters Foundation found that India was the least safe country in the world to be a woman, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.


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