Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Senior Editor: Shelly Walia
(Trigger warning: Descriptions of rape, violence, and murder. Reader discretion advised.)
On 17 December 2012, India woke up to the news of the gang rape of Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old woman, in the national capital the previous night. The sheer brutality of the crime pushed citizens to take to the streets, and fight for the safety of women and girls in the country.
However, the trail of rape cases in India didn't end with Nirbhaya.
From Shakti Mills in 2013 to Hathras in 2020, here are seven rape cases that shook the country over the last decade.
Shakti Mills Gang Rape
On 22 August 2013, five men, including a juvenile, raped a 22-year-old photojournalist on 22 August 2013, when she had gone to the deserted Shakti Mills compound in South Mumbai with a male colleague on an assignment.
Weeks later, on 3 September, an 18-year-old telephone operator reported to authorities that she had also been gang-raped at the same compound by four men and a juvenile on 31 July 2013. Three of the men involved were also accused in the photojournalist's case.
A Mumbai sessions court, on 20 March 2014, convicted all five adults accused in both cases, and on 4 April 2014, the court awarded the death penalty to the three repeat offenders in the photojournalist rape case.
However, the Bombay High Court commuted the three death sentences to life imprisonment on 25 November 2021.
Kerala Rape & Murder
A 29-year-old Dalit law student was found raped and murdered at her home in Kerala's Perumbavoor on 28 April 2016.
She was stabbed over 30 times and her body was severely mutilated, according to reports. Her injuries indicated violence and possible torture, and she had traces of alcohol in her body.
Later, a migrant labourer, the sole accused in the case, was arrested in the case. He reportedly planned to assault her and killed her after she resisted his rape attempt.
He was awarded a death sentence, in addition to a life term and rigorous imprisonment of 10 and seven years.
Ariyalur Gang Rape
In December 2016, a pregnant 17-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped and murdered by the union secretary of a group called the Hindu Munnani and three of his friends in Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur.
Her body was found in a well. The accused allegedly pulled out the foetus from her womb by cutting her genitalia with a blade.
Police said that the victim reportedly wanted the prime accused to marry her as she was carrying his child. But he refused as she belonged to a lower caste. He also allegedly tried to get her to abort the child.
All four accused were arrested in January 2014.
Unnao Rape Case
A 17-year-old girl was gang-raped on 4 June 2017 in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, India. The survivor tried to immolate herself outside the residence of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 8 April 2018, seeking justice. Her father died in judicial custody shortly after that.
On 16 December 2019, former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted for the rape. Later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Further, Sengar was found guilty of the death of the girl's father in judicial custody.
Kathua Gang Rape
Six men and a juvenile abducted, gang-raped, and murdered an eight-year-old Muslim girl in January 2018, in the Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir.
On 10 June 2019, six of the seven accused were convicted, while one of them was acquitted. Three of those convicted were sentenced to life imprisonment and the remaining were awarded three to five years.
In October 2019, a court ordered an FIR against six members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which probed the case, for allegedly torturing and coercing witnesses to give false statements.
Hyderabad Gang Rape & Murder
Four people allegedly raped and murdered a 26-year-old veterinary doctor in Hyderabad's Shadnagar. After gang-raping her, they allegedly burnt her body, which was found on 28 November 2019.
The accused were arrested and killed in a police encounter on 6 December 2019 when they were taken to a location for crime scene reconstruction.
Hathras Gang Rape
On 14 September 2020, four upper-caste men allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old Dalit woman in UP's Hathras district. She died two weeks later in a Delhi hospital.
After her death, the victim was forcibly cremated by the police without the consent of her family, a claim that has been denied by the police.
When the news broke out, Agra Police, Hathras District Magistrate, and UP's Information & Public Relations called it "fake news". Later, a senior UP Police officer claimed that no sperm was found in samples as per the forensic report and that some people had "twisted" the incident to stir "caste-based tension." The officer also said that the forensic report revealed that the victim was not raped.
Later, the Hathras Police arrested the four accused, and on 19 December 2020, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet in a special court, invoking gang rape and murder charges, along with charges under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.