In remote eastern India, a 14-year-old girl was punished for a sexual assault claim involving her brother – by being dragged into a forest and raped. The worst part about this? This horrific punishment was ordered by the village council.
Top local police official Jitendra Singh reported that two men have been arrested in the rape case – the village headman and the main suspect. The victim’s brother has also been arrested for the alleged molestation.
The victim’s mother recounts the devastating story to CNN-IBN, saying that she pleaded with the council and other villagers to revoke the punishment, but no one listened to her.
“We kept begging them. We begged with folded hands but they would not listen. They dragged her away to the forest.” [source]
The attack took place in a small village in Jharkhand state’s Bokaro district at midnight on Sunday.
Police official Singh stated:
“They attacked her in retaliation and we are taking this case very seriously.” [source]
Singh also stated that police are expected to complete the investigation and file charges within a few days.
Throughout rural India, highly conservative local councils are considered very powerful, able to pass ruling on any subject they desire – from how women should dress to life or death rulings for young lovers. It is common for these councils to enforce firm social norms about marriage and gender roles.
In another heartbreaking incident, a 20-year-old woman was gang-raped for falling in love with a man from a different community. This punishment was ordered by a village council in West Bengal state in January.
Usually in areas where local governments are too far away to settle issues, village councils are the only means of delivering justice. In extreme cases, councils will punish men and women suspected of out-of-wedlock sex by ordering honor killings.