Pollachi ‘sex blackmail gang’ victim’s name revealed

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Activists fear victims of an alleged sex blackmail gang terrorising an Indian city will not come forward after the name of one survivor was made public by government officials.

 

The woman’s name was contained in an official document published by the Tamil Nadu government.

 

It is illegal in India to report the name of a sexual assault victim.

 

Reports in local media suggest she could be just one of many victims of the alleged gang.

 

Police in the southern Indian town of Pollachi have been appealing for more victims to come forward since reports first emerged.

 

But the revelation of the student’s name – in an official document handing the case to federal investigators – could deter women speaking out, warns Dr Swarna Rajagopalan, the founder of the Prajnya Trust, which focuses on gender violence.

 

“When it comes to sexual crimes, the tendency is still to blame the victim, unlike when you are robbed, mugged or stabbed,” she told the BBC.

 

“When it comes to sexual crimes, people tend to recognise a crime, point to it and refer to it by the name of the victim. It becomes your primary identity. So this becomes a massive deterrent to reporting it.”

 

The BBC has contacted the Tamil Nadu government for comment. A court has ordered the document be withdrawn, while any videos of the alleged victims must be taken off the internet, according to India’s The News Minute.

 

According to the official police document, the woman, a 19-year-old student, filed a complaint against the men on 24 February.

 

She told police the men – who she knew – trapped her in a car on 12 February, before removing her top without her permission and filming her on their mobile phones.

 

They then warned her if she did not cooperate, they would release the video.

 

Finally, they allegedly stole her $290 (£220) gold necklace.

 

The teenager only found the courage to tell her family what had happened almost two weeks later, after the men had repeatedly tried to extort money from her.

 

The official document says the woman’s brother was later attacked by the men “with a threat to his life”. This allegedly happened when he confronted the men.

 

The case has now been transferred from the local police to the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

 

It has been claimed this attack was just one in a series carried out by the gang, with some local media suggesting they have been targeting women since 2013.

 

One man told The Hindu newspaper he allegedly reported the same group to police back in 2016.

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