NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) - Police investigating the rape and sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl in southern India say more than 130 people, including her father, were involved in a sex racket in which the schoolgirl was passed around for almost two years between various men for sex, the Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
The case came to light after the teenager, from a village near the city of Kochi in India's coastal state of Kerala, told a relative that she had been raped by her father at the age of 14 and then trafficked by him to more than 100 men, including doctors, government officials, politicians, businessmen and actors.
"More names are surfacing every day as we make new arrests, especially of the agents in the flesh trade,” the newspaper quoted a police source as saying. “As of now, we have identified 130 persons. But the list is unlikely to halt at that figure."
Details of the case are still emerging, but the girl reportedly told the police that her father – who used to play small roles in local language films, first raped her and then began sexually exploiting her by selling her to other men within the film industry as well as outside, often taking her to different cities to be raped.
The newspaper quoted police sources saying that 59 people had so far been arrested in connection with the case – including around six women, most of whom are reported to have acted as agents involved in supplying the girl to clients.
Gender rights activists say that in largely patriarchal India, women and girls face hardships which few in the West can fathom.
From domestic violence, dowry-related murder, rapes and sexual abuse, to the murder of young girls simply because they are seen as a burden in the family, the crimes are widespread and show high rates of growth both in urban and rural areas.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)