Woman ‘raped’ after being dragged from India’s sacred Ganges river (VIDEO)

PATNA – Two men have been arrested in the Indian state of Bihar for allegedly raping a woman who was bathing in the Ganges or Ganga, a sacred river in the South Asian country.

Police said the suspects took turns to assault the 45-year-woman, who had been bathing in an area called Simar Ghat on Sunday morning, and filmed her ordeal. A video of the incident, which occurred next to the river, has also been widely shared on social media.

In the video, the two men are allegedly seen dragging the woman from the water and raping her, ignoring her as she appeals to them to respect the sanctity of the “mother” river. The men reportedly took turns to assault the victim and film it.

The Ganga is worshipped as a goddess by many Hindus. In Hinduism, Ganga is said to cleanse one’s sins and bathing in its sacred waters purifies one’s inner soul.

The Times of India reports citing police officials that the mobile phone used to film the alleged assault had been seized and would be sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

Sexual violence has become a national issue since the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student triggered protests across the country. Statistics from India’s National Crime Bureau show there were more than 338,000 cases of crimes against women registered in 2016.

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India launched its first national register of sex offenders in September in a bid to stem crimes against women as the country reels from a series of high-profile rape cases.

In April, India’s cabinet also approved the death penalty for rapists of girls below the age of 12.

The changes came after the rapes of an eight-year-old girl and a young woman in two states led to widespread protests.