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May 20, 7:11 AM EDT

Police in southern India say a 24-year-old woman has cut off the genitals of a Hindu holy man who tried to rape her and who she says has been sexually assaulting her for the past eight years


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Police in southern India say a 24-year-old woman has cut off the genitals of a Hindu holy man who tried to rape her and who she says has been sexually assaulting her for the past eight years

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NEW DELHI (AP) -- A 24-year-old woman in southern India cut off the genitals of a Hindu holy man who tried to rape her and who she alleged has been sexually assaulting her for the past eight years, police said Saturday.

G. Sparjan Kumar, a police officer in Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala state capital, said the woman fled her home after the incident Friday night and called police.

The alleged attacker, 54-year-old Gangeshananda Theerthapada, who claims to be a spiritual healer, was reported to be in stable condition after reconstructive surgery.

Pinarayi Vijayan, the state's chief minister, told reporters on Saturday that it was brave of the woman to take such action. "It's a courageous and strong act by the woman," he said.

The New Delhi Television news channel said the woman's family knew Theerthapada, who used to visit their home to cure her bed-ridden father. She told police that he would rape her whenever he got an opportunity.

When he again visited her home on Friday night and tried to force himself on her, she got hold of a knife and attacked him, Kumar said.

Violent crimes against women have been on the rise in India despite tough laws enacted by the government.

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