Indian Village Head Arrested for Ordering Gang Rape of Woman as Punishment for Dating

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 23 2014 9:10 PM

Indian Village Head Arrested for Ordering Gang Rape of Woman as Punishment for Dating

180450564-indian-students-of-saint-joseph-degree-college
Indian students participate in an anti-rape protest in Hyderabad on September 13, 2013.

Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Indian police arrested 13 men in connection to a brutal gang rape of a 20-year-old woman in a village in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The rape was allegedly ordered by a village leader as punishment for dating a man outside of her community. The New York Times reports that according to local news outlets, villagers took the woman and her partner to the village square and tied them to separate trees as punishment for their relationship.

The woman filed a police report, the Wall Street Journal reports, outlining the vicious attack:

In her complaint, the woman from West Bengal said the head of her village council “ordered a mass rape,” after learning she was seeing a man from another community, said Prasanta Chowdhury, a senior police official in the state. The couple, who hail from a northern district in the state, were initially asked to pay 27,000 rupees, or $435, as a fine. Whey they failed to make the payment, the council ruled the woman must be thrashed and raped for violating traditional norms, Mr.  Chowdhury said. At least 13 men, including the village head, stripped and raped her on Monday, the woman said in her complaint… In Monday’s attack, Mr. Chowdhury said, the village council ruled the woman should be gang-raped by men in her village in order to “cleanse her” of relations she had with a man from a neighboring village. The woman, who is undergoing treatment in a state-run hospital, could not be reached for comment. Indian law forbids naming rape victims without permission from the individual or family.
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According to the Times, the village head threatened to burn down her family home if the woman reported the rape to authorities, but the family notified police on Wednesday and the 13 suspects were arrested and charged. The sexual assault comes on the heels of the gang rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist in New Delhi and a series of high-profile rapes in the country over the last year sparking outrage, protests, and a national debate on preventing sexual violence against women in the country.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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