Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Indian students and activists participate in a protest against two recent rapes in New Delhi, India, April 12, 2018. Placard in Hindi reads, "Women have only one demand, the society should be violence free."
Altaf Qadri/AP
Girls & Women

Indian Guru Asaram Bapu Gets Life in Prison for Raping Teen

By Joanna Prisco

One of India’s best known spiritual gurus was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday after the court found him guilty of raping a 16-year-old.

Asaram Bapu, a self-proclaimed spiritual revolutionist with millions of followers worldwide, received the verdict “amid high security at Jodhpur Central Jail in the western state of Rajasthan,” according to a report from CNN.

Take Action: Sign This Petition to #LeveltheLaw and empower girls and women around the world!

The guru was arrested in 2013 when two of his followers filed a case of sexual assault against him and alleged he had attacked their daughter, forcing her to perform sexual acts behind closed doors under the pretense of spiritual instruction. 

Asaram has been been jailed since then, with courts refusing multiple attempts at bail, according to NPR.

"I am happy to get justice ... We had complete faith in the judiciary and are happy that we got justice," said the father of the teen, according to the Hindustan Times.

But not everyone has sided with the victim’s family throughout the case.

Read More: 12 Photos That Show How People Won’t Stop Protesting India Rapes Until Justice is Served

Jodhpur, where the teen was attacked in 2013, is on high alert due to concerns of violence from the guru's supporters, reported the BBC Hindi.

Asaram, who is 77, oversees 400 ashrams around the world where he teaches meditation and yoga, according to the report. Indian politicians, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have attended his sermons in the past and the guru’s followers have maintained that the charges against him are an attack on Hindu culture. 

But at least two other rape cases against Asaram and his son claim otherwise. Two sisters from the state of Gujarat allege they were repeatedly sexually assaulted in incidents that date as far back as 10 years ago, according to NPR.

The guru is also being investigated by police on charges of corruption and forgery.

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including Goal No.5 for gender equality. You can join us by taking action here.