February 6, 2015 / 9:24 PM / 3 years ago

Indian activist's car vandalized after "Shame the Rapist Campaign"

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An Indian activist who started an online video campaign to shame rapists said on Friday that her car had been vandalized and she had received emails containing pornographic images.

Sunitha Krishnan, co-founder of the anti-trafficking charity Prajwala, started the "Shame the Rapist Campaign" earlier this week by posting two videos on the Internet that showed men raping women.

Just minutes after she announced the campaign on Indian television on Friday morning her car had its rear window smashed, she said.

"In 30 mins that I announced on NDTV #ShameTheRapistCampaign at 9.30 a.m. this morning, my vehicle (was) vandalized," tweeted Krishnan, who lives and works in the central city of Hyderabad.

"If goons think they can intimidate me this way ...take a long walk boss. I will report come what may," she said in another tweet, along with a picture of her car's damaged window.

Krishnan later said she had received around 20 emails containing pornographic images during the course of the day.

On Indian TV, police said they were investigating the attack on Krishnan's car and that it was too early to confirm whether it was linked to the "Shame the Rapist Campaign".

The activist, who works on rehabilitating victims of human trafficking, was informed on Thursday of the two graphic videos by an acquaintance who said he had received them through popular messaging application WhatsApp.

The videos are believed to be six months old.

"I edited the videos, blurred the identity of the victims, but fully exposed the identity of the rapists," Krishnan, who herself is a rape survivor, told Times Now news station.

"I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and started the 'Shame the Rapist Campaign' to trace and track these six rapists."

Krishnan said it was shocking that the videos had been online for months with possibly hundreds of people watching them, yet no one had informed the police.

One video shows five young men smiling and posing for the camera as they take turns raping a woman, who is crying and begging for them to stop.

The other shows a man raping a woman as another man films it.

The edited videos, which Krishnan posted on YouTube asking people to email her if they recognized any of the men, went viral on social media as users expressed their shock and anger.

YouTube has since removed both videos and Krishnan said that Prajwala's account had been deleted, but newspapers, television channels and social networking sites have been showing the pictures of the six men and calling on the public to come forward with any information.

Indian women face a plethora of threats - from female foeticide, child marriage, dowry and honor killings to discrimination in health and education and crimes such as rape, domestic violence and human trafficking.

Activists say it is unlikely for women to report such crimes, largely because of deep-rooted conservatism where victims are scared to come forward for fear of being "shamed" by their family and community.

Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Maria Caspani

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