The police made arrests after a woman alleged that she was forced into the network, which police suspect involves thousands of persons.

A collage of a man hiding his face and getting into a police vehicle, escorted by officersImage: ReporterLive
news Sexual assault Monday, January 10, 2022 - 18:25

A 26-year-old woman approached the Kottayam district police in Kerala on Saturday, January 8, alleging that for the last two years, her husband had forced her to have sex with multiple people in a 'couple-swapping' network. The complaint has in turn led to the discovery of a ‘couple-swapping’ network with hundreds of members. While the police have made seven arrests in the matter, more than 25 others are under the scanner, they said.

Police told TNM that through the network, couples were allegedly “exchanging women”, and that while some instances were consensual, others were not. The police are also investigating if there were financial transactions as their prima facie investigation showed that some men were getting paid. According to a report in The New Indian Express, the complainant wrote about her experience online, and also lodged a complaint with the police that her husband allegedly forced her to have sexual relations with many other persons. When TNM contacted the concerned police station, they said that the investigation is ongoing and a First Information Report has been registered under sections 376 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her marriage), 377 (carnal intercourse against the nature of man), 109 (bribery), 114 (when the abettor is present when the crime is committed) and 506(i) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Police said that while the accused belonged to three districts of Kerala — Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha — people from across the state, including high-ranking officials, are part of this network. Mathrubhumi reported that those involved use social media groups to chat and gain consent to ‘swap’ spouses, and that in some cases, money also changes hands.

A senior police official from Kottayam had told IANS, "The modus operandi is to first join the Telegram and Messenger groups and then two or three couples meet periodically. After that women are exchanged and there were even instances of a woman being shared by three men at a time. Money also changed hands as some single members in the group with some men providing their wives for money for a day of physical relationship."

A majority of people, including women, are like-minded but some women were under trauma after being forced by their husbands, a police officer told TOI.

Police said that a detailed investigation is underway to ascertain if these group members have relationships with any other groups. Further, OnManorama reports that nine people were involved in assaulting the woman who filed the complaint. Six of the accused were arrested. Out of the three remaining accused, one has left the country.

(With inputs from IANS)

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