Jharkhand: Trying to spread awareness, 5 women activists gang-raped; crime filmed

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Five women, working with a NGO, were allegedly raped at gunpoint by a group of at least five men when they had gone to Chochang village in Khunti district in Jharkhand to create awareness on migration and human trafficking, police said on Friday.

Around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in India every day, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Nearly 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in 2016, a rise of 25 per cent from the previous year, according to government data.

Police said an initial complaint was filed on Wednesday evening.

The women, who were working for a non-governmental organization called Asha Kiran supported by a local Christian missionary group, were reportedly video-taped and warned not to go to the police.

The street play had been organized by charity Asha Kiran, which runs a shelter home for the rehabilitation of rescued girls in Khunti district of Jharkhand, which has been identified as a trafficking hotspot.

The shelter provides them with counseling, formal education, and vocation and skill development. "All have been asked to appear before the police on Saturday for further questioning", the SP said. According to the investigation, two of the men were carrying small guns. Efforts are on to identify the culprits.

On Tuesday, unidentified men picked up nine activists during the street play being performed in the Kochang village and drove them into a dense forest, where the men were beaten up and the women raped, police officer Ashwini Kumar Sinha said to news agency Reuters.

The suspect's whereabouts are unknown. The individuals were attacked because they were outsiders.

Khunti has been witnessing Patthalgadi protests for the past many months.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.

In another case, the country's Supreme Court ruled that the trial of the men accused of raping and killing an eight-year-old Muslim girl in the north of country must be moved to a different state, following threats leveled against the victim's family.

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