Authorities in India are investigating a case where a 15-year-old girl was repeatedly gang-raped for around nine months, said local media reports.

Police in the city of Mumbai have arrested 24 people in connection to the alleged rapes, which began in January.

Local reports said it began when the girl’s boyfriend raped her and filmed the incident. He and his friends then reportedly used the recording to blackmail her into having sex with them.

“It all started when the lover of the girl raped her in January and made a video of the incident. He started blackmailing her on the basis of that video. Later on, his friends and acquaintances gang-raped her at least on four to five occasions at different places, including Dombivili, Badlapur, Murbad and Rabale in the district,” Additional Commissioner of Police (East region), Dattatray Karale said.

The girl finally reported the case to the police on Wednesday night. Her wrenching account led to the arrest of 24 men. News outlet NDTV said the girl had named 33 attackers in total, and that she knew almost all of them.

Some of the accused are believed to be associated with a political party.

The police have listed charges under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Since the infamous 2012 bus gang-rape of a woman dubbed Nirbhaya, which led to global outrage, India has introduced tough laws to deal with crimes of sexual nature.

But despite the increased scrutiny, it still remains a serious problem.

In 2020, India’s National Crime Records Bureau recorded 28,046 rape cases – or nearly 77 cases a day.

Campaigners say the actual numbers are much higher as many are not even reported, as rape is still seen as a taboo subject by many in Indian society.

(With excerpts from BBC)