The complaint of a woman homemaker in Kerala has revealed a complex wife-swapping network, that reeks of abuse and exploitation.
On 9 January 2022, a 27-year-old native of Karukachal in Kottayam district approached the local police station with a complaint. She alleged that her 32-year-old husband had been, for the past two years, forcing her to have group sex and was even getting paid for making the arrangement. She further alleged that she was sexually abused by a group of men, with the consent of her husband, in the name of 'wife-swapping'.
The Quint spoke to Kerala police's investigating officers to understand the status and implications of the case. The police have booked the accused under gangrape charges.
‘A Good Family Man Who Traded Wife’
On 7 January, the woman appeared on a YouTube podcast video by ‘Althwaf Vlogs’ where she narrated her ordeal.
The couple were in love for over five years before they got married in 2012, she was heard saying in the video. The husband who works as a painter, was earlier working abroad for a few years. The woman was working as a teacher and had quit a few years ago, so as to take care of the domestic responsibilities.
In 2018, he returned to Kerala and the scandal reportedly began then. The couple have two kids, who are two and five years old.
“When he returned, he forced his wife to join the culture of wife-swapping. Initially, she refused and even told him to go ahead with it for his own happiness. But he began threatening to kill himself. She said she did it because she wanted her husband to be happy,” said a police official, on the condition of anonymity.
The Quint reached out to the survivor but didn’t get a comment.
The survivor had at first reached out to her parents after which they called the husband home for a discussion. Later, she filed a complaint with the police, who advised the couple to go for counselling.
The husband even apologised to her but returned to his old ways at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.
“I was in no position to tell my parents that this problem is persisting. They had told me to not return to my husband. And at the same time, a lot of people around me told me that I need to think of the children’s future and so shouldn’t take a decision in haste. So I have been dealing with all this for the sake of my kids,” she said.
'Sex Without Consent': Survivor
The complainant reportedly told the police that several couples would visit their home in the guise of family friends without raising suspicion. The woman was also taken to Alappuzha and Ernakulam to meet other couples, she has complained.
Even unmarried persons were involved in the racket. The police have found that the husband also charged money for forcing the woman to engage in an array of sexual activities.
It has been reported that the last deal made by the husband fetched him over Rs 16,000.
“He would tell me that if I were to spent just two hours he could earn Rs 5,000 to Rs 16,000. He would ask me why I was being adamant and that I should be more understanding.”The Survivor to ‘Althwaf Vlogs’
The accused used to blackmail his sister, the survivor's brother told Asianet News. "He would tell the kids that if their mother behaved well they could become billionaires and that he would never have to work. There were days when he had held a knife to the kids,” her brother told Asianet News.
The complainant decided to lodge a complaint after a man, from Pala in Kottayam, she was forced to have sex with turned out to be very abusive.
Network Exposed: 7 Held in Kerala for Gangrape
The survivor has named nine persons and shared their phone numbers with the police. On 9 January, Kerala police arrested six men who were allegedly part of the online sex racket that involved over 1,000 members.
A First Information Report (FIR) was registered under sections 376 (gang rape), 377 (carnal intercourse against the nature of man), 109 (bribery), 114 (when the abettor is present when the crime is committed) and 506(i) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The arrested persons are from Thumboli beach area and Punnapra from Alappuzha district, Kaloor in Ernakulam district and Kooroppada and Aymenem in Kottayam, and also included the survivor’s husband.
The police are tracking three other people who have sexually assaulted the complainant. One of the three accused has managed to flee to Saudi Arabia.
A preliminary investigation has revealed that several government officials, NRI businessmen, natives of Goa and Tamil Nadu, engineers, doctors, and other high ranking professionals are among active members in these groups, the police said.
A senior police official on the condition of anonymity told The Quint that the police have identified 14 groups, linked to the case, on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram.
Based on the information received during interrogation, the police said that groups that are being monitored include, ‘Meet up Kerala’, ‘Couple Meet’, ‘Kerala Cuckold’ and ‘Real Meet'. The groups solicit couples for 'swapping'.
Kerala DGP Anil Kant has directed senior police officials to monitor the investigation. The cyber cell is tracking social media platforms promoting “sex trade” across the state.
Ensuring protection, the police have also urged women to come forward to complain.
It may be recalled that in 2019, police had busted a wife-swapping network in Kayamkulam. The group reportedly exchanged their wives for sex with the help of ShareChat, a social network app.
After spending half the day at the police station on 12 January, the brother of the complainant told The Quint that he wants the police to apprehend all the perpetrators. He and his sister have reportedly been threatened by members of the racket.
Panel Orders High-Level Probe Into ‘Wife-Swapping’ Case
Kerala Women’s Commission has ordered a high-level inquiry, into the complaint, under the supervision of the DGP. The commission said, in a statement, that incidents that adversely affect the image and prestige of women should be investigated to expose those responsible.
P Sathee Devi, chairperson of the commission, said in a statement that a culture that commodifies women is a cause for concern. This is a sign of decaying social values. The trend should end immediately, she said.