The shocking apathy towards rape and sexual assault in India has been highlighted in a video posted online, showing a woman screaming for help and very few people intervening to stop the abuse.

The experiment - carried out by YesNoMaybe, a group of friends who make videos "to spread smiles" - was released after two girls, aged 14 and 16, were raped and then hung from a mango three in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The video, entitled Public Experiment on Women Abuse in India, shows a white van parked on the side of a road in New Dehli. A woman, locked up in the van, screams for help.

Several people walk past the van and hear the woman scream. Very few, however, intervene to help the victim. Some even stop to listen before moving on.

The video ends with the following question: "Think, who was the real culprit? The beast inside the car, or the people who just walked off?"

Following publication of the video, YesNoMaybe said: "We hear about rapes every day in India, which leads to widespread protest.

"Thousands of people attend candlelit marches but only a handful of people act when it really matters.

"So we set out to find how many people would actually help if someone's in trouble."

"Blame the Victim" Mentality and Absence of Community Spirit

According to experts and activists the video – which has been already seen by more than 1.2m people since it was posted on 6 June – sheds light on a general apathy in India about violence against women.

"There's still an apathy about what's happening to women, an insensitivity on the issue, although attitudes are changing," Ranjana Kumari, women's activist and director of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research, told AFP.

"There is also still this rationale that the woman must have done something to deserve the attack. There must be some justification for what is happening to her."

Social scientist Shiv Visvanathan said he was wary of drawing conclusions from the video but he said many Delhi residents were scared of being attacked themselves if they intervened.

"There's an absence of a community spirit in many parts of Delhi, a feeling that we should work together to stop these attacks happening.

"It's a city of strangers."

Rape and Impunity Nothing New in India

The recent murder in Uttar Pradesh – which was followed by two other cases of women being raped and hung from trees - has shed light on the widespread culture of unpunished rape in India.

Rape is one of the most common crimes across the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 25,000 rape cases were reported in 2012, of which 24,470 were committed by a relative or neighbour. Around 98% of reported rapes were carried out by men.

Following global outrage over the death of the two girls, Babulal Gaur, minister from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata party said "sometimes [rape] is right, sometimes it's wrong".

The remark followed a previous comment by the head of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, who told an election rally that he was opposed to gang rapists being executed.

"Boys will be boys," Mulayam Singh Yadav said. "They make mistakes."

The recent attacks in Uttar Pradesh came just 18 months after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi.