Four Indian police officers were suspended on Friday after it emerged they had refused to help a woman who had just been gang-raped, mocked her and accused her of inventing her story.
The 19-year-old student, who cannot be named, went to police after she was repeatedly raped by four men outside a railway station in the central Indian city of Bhopal on Tuesday.
Her family later alleged police had “mocked” them and repeatedly turned them away when they tried to lodge a complaint, according to Santosh Kumar Singh, deputy inspector general of police in Bhopal.
He said the officers had accused the woman of telling a “filmi” story, using an Indian English word derived from the movie industry to imply that she was exaggerating.
“Three inspector-rank officers have been suspended and one superintendent of police has been removed from his posting for dereliction of duty and misbehaviour,” Singh told AFP by phone.
India has a grim record of sexual violence
The Indian government data for 2015 shows 34,651 rapes were recorded, but campaigners say the true figure is likely to be much higher given the social stigma that still surrounds such cases.
India strengthened its laws on sexual violence after the fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student five years ago caused global outrage, but attacks remain widespread and enforcement is patchy.
Police have launched investigations into the officers' behaviour and into the family's claim they went to three different police stations before they were finally able to file a complaint.
Singh said the woman's parents had themselves apprehended two of the suspects and taken them to police. A third was arrested on Thursday and a fourth is still at large.
Bhopal is the capital of Madhya Pradesh, which registered nearly 4,500 rape cases in 2015 — the highest of any Indian state.