Eleven people including several women have been arrested after a young mother was allegedly abducted, gang-raped and then paraded through the lanes of Delhi in broad daylight, Indian police said on Friday.
The incident, the latest to spotlight sexual violence in India, drew widespread condemnation including from the Delhi Commission for Women and Delhi's chief minister, who called it “shameful”.
Footage on social media, which could not be independently verified, showed the victim — her face blackened with ink and her hair chopped off — being pushed and heckled by several women as onlookers cheered and filmed with their phones.
R. Sathiyasundaram, deputy commissioner of police, said the incident in the Shahdara district of east Delhi on Wednesday was a result of “previous enmity” among neighbours.
He gave no further details but media reports said a 16-year-old relative of the perpetrators had killed himself by jumping in front of a train after the married 21-year-old woman rejected his advances.
“All 11 arrested including two minors, who can't be tried as adults, belong to a single-family and the videos clearly show that the women were at the forefront,” Sathiyasundaram told AFP.
The victim told police that she was abducted by members of the family before being raped by several men and minors — egged on by the women — and then beaten with sticks and paraded outside.
“We are examining the videos to identify others who were involved and there will be more arrests,” Chinmay Biswal, additional commissioner of Delhi police, told AFP.
The woman, who has a two-year-old child, is now receiving counselling after the incident, which reportedly took place barely 50 metres (yards) from a police booth that was unmanned at the time.
India's rape laws were overhauled after a notorious 2012 gang rape in New Delhi but the number of offences remains high, with more than 28,000 rapes reported in 2020.
Many more are thought to go unreported and police have long been accused of not doing enough to prevent violent crime and failing to bring sexual assault cases to court.