A teenage girl took a knife to her uncle in India took action when he tried to rape her for a second time, cutting off his penis. 

Trigger warning: the second paragraph of this article includes a potentially triggering description of rape. 

The girl, who reports have left unnamed (likely because of the stigma associated with rape), was ill and had been sent to visit her uncle Mahendra Mehta for a cure.  Mehta, a tantrik (one who practices the religion Tantra) believed his niece had fallen under the influence of supernatural powers and set about raping her to “expel” those spirits.  When she protested, he bound and gagged her.  Just to be clear, rape is not an established method of spirit-expulsion: police told reporters at the Independent that “there was no attempt to ‘cure her’ — it was just rape.” 

The next day, that same man asked the girl to come visit him at his home.  Apparently his “spirit-expelling” wasn’t done yet.  On July 2nd, the girl went, but this time she was prepared.  She brought a cellphone—which she used to record their encounter—and a knife.  She used the phone to record an (incriminating) conversation with her uncle and then, when he allegedly tried to rape her again, cut off his penis and left the scene. 

The village council, to whom the girl reported the incident, took minimal action, so she brought the matter to policewomen at the local police station.  The suspect, however, is still at large. 

A local policeman, Mr. Singh, says that officers are now seeking the fleeing man.  When asked whether charges will be filed against the girl he responded: “Why should we file a case against her? We should applaud her bravery and courage.”

Unfortunately, not all women have the opportunity or resources to protect themselves in these situations.  While it is always encouraging to hear about a woman who successfully defended herself, it is also important to recall how often rapists succeed. 

In New Delhi alone a rape is reported every 18 hours, the highest number of sex crimes reported among all major cities. 

Luckily, people are starting to pay attention.  The highly publicized gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in December of 2012 raised awareness of the prevalence of rape culture in India, and now such crimes are given a more prominent spot in media coverage. 

Of course that is only the beginning of the long road to eliminating rape and assault—but we can only move forward if we take that first step.  

Images and information courtesy of elitedaily.com, washingtonpost.com, and independent.co.uk.  


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