A horrifying video of a woman being pounced upon by roughly twenty men after she left a bar in India has caused international outrage. In it, the woman is seemingly stripped, molested, and even burned with cigarettes as she screams for help for roughly thirty minutes, to no avail.
According to Reuters, the teenaged girl was leaving a birthday party when the men descended upon her in what an eyewitness described as "like gang rape."
Mukul Kalita, the individual who finally intervened, said he was on his way home from work when he saw the girl. She apparently saw him, too, and ran towards him, "fell on the ground" and pleaded with him to save her.
"At that moment, I did not care about the violent mob charging towards me. They abused me, shoved me and even hit me but I was not letting them touch her anymore. She had been already stripped and I could only move around her to hide her modesty," he recalled.
Even more shocking, he related: 'The people in the mob asked me why I was trying to save her."
The police did not arrive for roughly 45 minutes, according to the victim, though they had reportedly been informed of the situation and the station was nearby. She says that, though beaten, molested, and burned, the police arrived before the men raped her.
"There are signs of cigarette burns are all over her body besides marks of severe injury ... Animal like treatment was meted out to the hapless girl," a member of the team investigating the incident told reporters.
The video was captured by an off-duty journalist and, in a frighteningly callous article, a Reuters blogger is asking whether the reporter and cameraman should have "abandoned the observer's role and become part of the story."
"They were only taking pictures. Why could they not help me?" the victim asked, according to the U.K.'s Guardian.
News Live’s managing editor Syed Zarir Hussain defended his channel’s actions in filming the attack, saying that had the video not been shot, police would not have been able to identify the molesters. He also insists that the authorities were called immediately, though police say they did not receive a call from the reporters.
“Such incidents are shameful," Mridula Saharia, former chairwoman of the Assam State Commission for Women, told Reuters. "It only shows the degrading morality of our society.”
And whether she was drinking at the bar is irrelevant, she insists. “Drinking may be harmful and bad, but that does not give anyone the right to outrage the modesty of a woman. And why can’t women party? These offenders must be arrested and brought to justice.”
Though the police claim they arrived five minutes after receiving the first call, they were also criticized in the days following the attack for failing to round up the suspects.
Residents started putting up "wanted" posters around the city, and it seems like only after the story drew widespread coverage did the authorities start taking the matter seriously.
11 of the offenders have been identified, and four have been arrested, according to police. Authorities have been unable to locate Amar Jyoti Kalita, one of the seemingly worst offenders. An employee of state run IT-agency AMTRON, he has been suspended from his job, however.
Another one of of the accused attackers works as a sweeper at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), while yet another works for a water tanker service agency.
India Today relates: "The girl is determined to ensure that justice is meted out and the [accused] who are still at large are brought to book. They are a threat to our mothers and daughters."
Here is part of the video as it aired on the country's news channels (content warning):