Protests erupt after sexual assault videos go viral in India

A wave of protests have rocked India's southern state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday (March 14) after videos showing sexual assault on female college students were posted online.

Outrage increased after police said the footage was part of a wider plot by a group of men to befriend female students on social media and get them to commit sexual acts, then film them and use the video footage to blackmail them.

Four men in Pollachi were arrested after a 19-year-old woman lodged a complaint, the Tamil Nadu police wrote in a report to the government on Wednesday (March 13).

Police are now trying to identify other victims based on video footage recovered from the mobile phones of the four accused men. At least five sexual assault videos have been posted on social media so far.

Student protesters and women’s rights campaigners demanded police swiftly investigate the assaults and provide protection to the victims.

Sexual violence remains taboo in India, where survivors fear stigma or retribution if they report attacks. The number of crimes against women reported to police in India have sharply risen by 83 percent from 2007 to 2016, according to government data, which showed that four rape complaints were reported every hour in 2016.

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