When a man in India was accused of assaulting a neighbor’s wife, the village leaders ordered a horrendous punishment: the rape of that man’s 14-year-old sister. The neighbor was instructed to carry out the rape, which occurred sometime after midnight on Sunday and daytime on Monday. The punishment–called revenge rape–is not uncommon in rural India.
In January, another council of village elders ordered the gang rape of a 20-year-old in West Bengal for being involved with a man from another community. She was beaten, raped and later died from injuries, as they had also raped her with a metal pole. And a year ago, a 24-year-old woman in northern India was forced to marry a man and was then gang raped as punishment for her brother’s elopement.
In most of rural India, women are still viewed as the property of their families and even their communities. Though rape outside of marriage is illegal in India, eye-for-an-eye revenge rape is still part of the tradition.
“If you want to hurt the husband, hurt the father or hurt the community, then you rape the woman to say, ‘All right, I’m soiling your goods,'” explains secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association Kavita Krishnan.
The rapist’s wife defends his actions. Her father was reportedly one of the village elders that ordered the revenge rape.
The mother of the 14-year-old victim told CNN that she had begged the council members and fellow villagers to stop the rape of her child, but no one did anything.
“We begged with folded hands but they would not listen. They dragged her away to the forest,” the mother recalled.
The young teen’s parents found their daughter bleeding an hour after the violent rape and took her to the police station. According to the police spokesperson, her clothes were smeared with blood. Later, she was admitted to the hospital because of renewed bleeding and difficulty walking.
The Indian police have arrested the rapist, his father-in-law and the attempted rapist from the week prior. However, securing a conviction and then keeping that conviction from being overturned is difficult in India. Only 1 out of 635 rape cases reported in India in 2011 have resulted in conviction. Though the Delhi attack has begun a reformation of women’s rights, the laws are not well enforced in rural India, and marital rape is still legal.
– Kimmi Ligh