Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Brazilian tourist’s gang rape in Jharkhand: outrage continues spread as ultra-nationalists blame victims

In Jharkhand, a Brazilian-Spanish biker couple was assaulted by a group of seven men. The woman was gang-raped during the attack.

The incident occurred late Friday night in the Hansdiha area of Dumka district in Jharkhand when the 28-year-old woman and her husband halted at a deserted place to spend the night in a makeshift tent.

Police say that they have arrested four men and are searching for three more, reported PTI.

The identities of the accused have not been disclosed yet.

The couple had travelled to several parts of Asia on their motorbikes before arriving in India a few months ago.

The news came out over the weekend, as the woman posted a video on their Instagram page which has more than 200,000 followers.

“Seven men raped me. They have beaten us and robbed us, although not many things [were taken] because what they wanted was to rape me,” the woman who is originally Brazilian said in Spanish, adding that the men beat them and threatened to kill them.

In a different video, the husband, who is Spanish, said: “My mouth is destroyed, but my partner is worse than me. They have hit me with the helmet several times, with a stone on the head. Thank goodness she was wearing the jacket and that stops the blows a little.”

The videos have been removed from their page.

Dumka’s police superintendent Pitamber Singh Kherwar told reporters the couple were taken to a local health centre for treatment on a patrol van.

“The couple were speaking in a mixture of English and Spanish so the patrolling team could not understand them initially. But they appeared visibly injured so they were taken for treatment,” he said, adding that the couple then told doctors about the rape.

The Brazilian embassy in India said that the woman and her husband “were victims of a serious criminal attack”.

 The embassy added it had contacted the woman and local authorities as well as the Spanish embassy, as the couple had entered India using Spanish passports.

“The Spanish embassy said that it had offered all the assistance available, including psychological care, but that the victims had declined the offer as they were already being looked after by the Indian emergency services,” the Brazilian embassy told BBC.

“We need to stand united in our commitment to end violence against women everywhere in the world,” the Spanish embassy in India posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday.

Several people wrote on social media platforms, expressing solidarity and sympathy with them.

At the same time, a large group of ultra-nationalists blamed the victims for ‘defaming’ the nation by publicising the incident. Many portrayed the couple and passed comments about them in bad taste.

Several Hindutva-leaning social media handles asked individuals who raised their voices against the matter to go to Pakistan or Palestine if they were not feeling safe in the country.

Notably, the chief of India’s National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, also sparked criticism after her derogatory remarks about the incident.

She was responding to a post from a US journalist who wrote that while India was one of his favourite places, “the level of sexual aggression” he witnessed while living in the country was “unlike anywhere else I have ever been”. He also gave a couple of examples of sexual assault faced by women he knew.

“Did you ever report the incident to police?” Ms Sharma wrote. “If not then you are totally an irresponsible person. Writing only on social media and defaming whole country is not a good choice.”

Following the incident, several women shared their stories of dealing with unwanted sexual attention while travelling in India.

It has also sparked conversations around the increase of rape and sexual violence in India, as well as the country’s redressal system.

Sexual violence targeting women has seen a hike in India during the past few years, with women from minority and tribal communities being particularly at risk.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an average of nearly 90 rapes were reported in India every day in 2022.

With a total of 31,516 rape cases that year, it was estimated that one woman was raped every 18 minutes.

Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states recorded the highest number of cases.

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