Schoolgirls holding placards participate in a protest rally against the rape of two teenage girls in Chatra and Pakur districts of eastern state of Jharkhand, in Ranchi, India, May 8, 2018.
Schoolgirls holding placards participate in a protest rally against the rape of two teenage girls in Chatra and Pakur districts of eastern state of Jharkhand, in Ranchi, India, May 8, 2018.

Indian officials say five female charity workers were abducted and gang-raped at gunpoint by a group of men in a remote, eastern tribal district of Jharkhand.

The women told police they were staging a play to raise awareness about human trafficking when the armed men interrupted the performance and kidnapped them.

A police officer said the women worked for Asha Kiran, a nongovernmental organization supported by a local Christian missionary group.

Police say they suspect supporters of Pathalgadi may be responsible. Pathalgadi supporters do not like outsiders and do not allow them to enter or settle in their area.

The global spotlight focused on India’s rape culture in 2012 when a woman was gang raped and murdered on a New Delhi bus, sparking angry protests.

In 2016, 40,000 rapes were reported in India, a 60 percent increase since 2012. Nearly 40 percent of the rape victims were children.

Child Marriage