Two Indian sisters ‘sentenced’ to be raped and then paraded naked around the streets with their faces blackened in another example of India’s scandalous ‘village justice’
Meenakshi Kumari, who is 23, and her younger sister, will then be paraded naked with their faces blackened through the streets, according to a ruling from the all-male village council.
The sisters have petitioned the country’s Supreme Court to be protected from the so-called “eye-for-an-eye” ruling from the village council in Uttar Pradesh state, 30 miles from the capital Delhi.
The family are from the Dalit caste, historically known as “untouchables”. However, the brother fell in love with a woman from the higher, Jat, caste.
The woman was forced into an arranged marriage in February with a man from her own caste despite her relationship, according to Zee news, citing the elder sister Meenakshi.
The couple eloped in March, but returned to the village after the man’s family were allegedly tortured by police.
The village council then made its ruling that the Dalit family should be dishonoured to “avenge” the brother’s supposed crime.
Meenakshi and her sister ran away to the capital after the ruling was handed out and were able to submit their petition for protection for their family at the Supreme Court. However, they are still facing the punishment when they return home.
Khap panchayats are the archaic systems of village justice that exist in much of rural India. They are dominated by the Jat caste and are almost always run by male village elders.
The “courts” often order honour killings and sexual “punishments” and are frequently allowed to operate completely outside the Indian legal system, despite the Supreme Court labelling them “kangaroo courts”.
Jats are powerful sources of votes and few politicians have been prepared to challenge the system.
Amnesty International has set up a petition against the punishment, stating: “Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law.”
Rachel Alcock, Amnesty UK’s urgent action coordinator, said: “Rape is a revolting crime, not a punishment. It’s no wonder this disgusting ‘sentence’ has provoked global outrage.
“These Khap courts routinely order vile sexually violent punishments against women. India’s supreme court has rightly declared such orders illegal.
“The government of Uttar Pradesh has an urgent duty to keep this family safe.
“There must also be a proper, independent investigation into these barbaric and illegal orders which apparently continue to be issued by the khap panchayat courts.”
The gang rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December 2012horrified the country and led to mass street protests and the central government vowing reform of the penal code.
However, last December, the girl’s father said the promises of legal reform had not been met. A BBC documentary called India’s Daughter broadcast in March proved highly controversial for its portrayal of how widespread the problem of rape is in India.