Video shows Indian opposition party leader, not 'father of rape victim protesting sexual violence'

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A video of a man carrying a small girl while he shouts and waves a poster has been shared in multiple social media posts that falsely claim it shows a father protesting at the Indian parliament after his daughter was raped. But the video has circulated since December 2019 in posts and reports about an opposition party leader protesting about the rising number of violent crimes against women. The politician, Sachin Chaudhary from the Congress party, told AFP he staged the protest with his daughter after a doctor was raped and murdered in Hyderabad in November 2019.

"A 5-year-old girl was raped in Delhi... The girl's father took the girl towards the Parliament House and alleged that the Modi government was responsible," reads part of a caption to a video shared on Twitter here on May 2, 2023.

The 25-second clip shows a man carrying a small crying girl near a road while he waves a poster.

The man can be heard shouting in Hindi: "Let me say what I want. Daughters are being murdered. The Modi government is responsible and Modi is a monster."

The man is later surrounded and apprehended by police officers.

Screenshot of the false tweet, captured on May 22, 2023

The video was also shared alongside similar claims on Facebook here and here; and on Twitter here and here.

But the video in fact shows a leader of the opposition Congress party protesting against the increasing number of violent crimes against women in 2019.

Protest outside parliament

A keyword search on YouTube led to a similar video of the incident posted by the independent media outlet Bolta Hindustan on December 5, 2019 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false post (left) and footage from Bolta Hindustan’s report on YouTube (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false post (left) and footage from Bolta Hindustan’s report on YouTube (right)

The video is titled, "In front of the parliament, Congress leader said - the Modi government is responsible for these crimes against our daughters".

The video's description includes the hashtag, "#SachinChaudhary".

Sachin Chaudhary is a leader of the opposition Indian National Congress and general secretary of the party in north India's Uttar Pradesh state (archived link).

The Bolta Hindustan video report shows Chaudhary holding a poster that reads, "I won't send my daughter out of the house or to school, prime minister."

"Hang the rapists within 90 days," reads another poster stuck to his back.

Screenshots from the Bolta Hindustan report showing Congress leader Sachin Chaudhary's posters

Chaudhary also posted a similar video of the protest on Facebook here and on Twitter here on December 5, 2019 (archived links here and here).

Alongside the video, Chaudhary wrote: "When I reached parliament with my daughter to urge Modi to protect our sisters and daughters, as they are facing atrocities under his government, the police arrested me and my daughter."

"They don’t take action against the culprits and have arrested my seven-year-old daughter. They have also torn my clothes," he added.

Chaudhary told AFP on May 15, 2023: "A Hyderabad-based doctor was raped and murdered and her body was thrown in the forest. We protested against this near the Parliament House in Delhi, and being a father of a daughter, I went there with my innocent daughter to express sympathy with the victims."

"But this short clip of my daughter at the protest was shared on many social media platforms with a wrong context. I have lodged a complaint with the police and demanded the removal of the video and legal action against those who shared it with the wrong context."

Sexual violence against women

The gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor in the south Indian city of Hyderabad in November 2019 triggered protests across India, with demonstrators urging authorities to ensure rape cases are tried quickly and those convicted punished without delay.

In 2012, the issue of sexual violence against women in the country was thrown under the spotlight after the fatal gang-rape of physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh on a New Delhi bus.

Singh was dubbed "Nirbhaya" ("fearless") by the Indian media and became a symbol of the socially conservative country's failure to tackle sexual violence against women.

Under pressure, the government introduced harsher penalties for rapists and the death penalty for repeat offenders, new sexual offences were introduced, and more CCTV cameras and street lights were installed.

But tens of thousands of rape cases remain stuck in India's overburdened legal system and horrific crimes against women continue to be reported.

According to government crime figures, India registered 31,677 cases of rape in 2021; there were 24,923 rape cases in the year Singh was killed.