In separate videos being shared on popular messaging service WhatsApp, two women are filmed being gang-raped. Some of the six rapists are seen smiling for a cellphone camera during the horrific assaults.
The videos, believed to be six months old, were discovered by Sunitha Krishnan, a women's rights activist who runs an NGO in Hyderabad. She uploaded the images onto YouTube yesterday, asking viewers to help identify the rapists. The footage has been removed today by YouTube, stating that "it violates terms of service."
"Ten seconds into the video, I was overcome. I had to stop as I needed to throw up," she told NDTV. She said an acquaintance alerted her to the videos after receiving them on WhatsApp.
Ms Krishnan was gang-raped by eight men when she was 15. "People don't come forward when it comes to helping in getting the perpetrators arrested," she said. Determined to try and change that, she asked her husband, a film-maker, to edit the video to protect the rape victim's identity and highlight the faces of the men who assaulted her.
"If you know of anybody who has received any such videos, inform me at firstname.lastname@example.org," she writes on her Facebook page. "I don't know how many people saw these videos and remained silent. WE WILL NOT."
Ms Krishnan hopes to meet Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare, as well as top officials in the Union Home Ministry to seek their intervention in locating and punishing the rapists.
The National Commission of Women said that it will seek the urgent intervention of the Hyderabad police. "We have been saying that there should be a mechanism in place where such incidents of cyber-crime can be curbed. The circulation needs to be stopped and the men should be brought to shame," said the panel's Shamina Shafiq.