The unnamed woman, a widow, claims she was asleep when the alleged assailant, Bhola Thakur, entered her house early Tuesday morning and raped her. A police officer told the Hindustan Times that the man was “so drunk he [fell] asleep in her house after committing the crime.”
The Indian Express reports that the woman contemplated committing suicide out of shame, but changed her mind and instead poured kerosene on her slumbering attacker before fleeing the house.
Thakur died in the fire. Police told the Hindustan Times he had been previously accused in dozens of cases of “eve-teasing” — a euphemism used in India for public sexual assault. Additionally, neighbors reported that Thakur had been harassing the woman for a few months, the Times of India notes.
In her police report, the woman admitted to lighting her assailant on fire. “I have no regret that I burned Bhola alive,” she said, via TOI. “I put kerosene on him before he raped me, which I could not stop, and burned him out of revenge.”
The woman was arrested by the police on Tuesday, according to the Hindustan Times. Thakur’s widow has reportedly filed a report against the woman, and police are investigating the alleged rape and murder cases.
The decision to handle this case as one of murder rather than rape has caused some controversy in India, as many feel the police should have been more sympathetic to awoman who apparently acted out of self-defense. TOI points out that private defense is protected under the law even in the case of the attacker’s death.
In what is seen as an encouraging move, India’s Parliament passed anexpansive new law to protect women against sexual violence in March.
“It’s a significant moment. We have taken many steps forward,” said a women’s rights activist quoted by the Associated Press. “Much, much more needs to be done.”
Read more: HuffPost