Village elders 'order gang-rape of young woman as punishment for relationship with outsider'

The 20-year-old woman was in a critical condition after the attack

Delhi

A young Indian woman is in critical condition after allegedly being gang-raped by more than ten men as a punishment ordered by a kangaroo court for having a relationship with a man from a different community.

Officials in the town of Suri said the 20 year-old was being treated in hospital after being raped in an assault that lasted through the night. The next morning, the woman and her family were threatened not to leave their home and were unable to contact the authorities for a further 24 hours.

The woman, a member of a tribal community, was reportedly attacked as a result of a relationship she was having with a Muslim man. Reports said that men from the woman’s village found with her the man on Monday and tied her to a tree before hastily convening a village council.

The elders said the man and woman should pay a fine of the equivalent of up to £485. When the couple and the woman’s family said they could not pay such a sum, the headman ordered that the woman be gang-raped as a punishment.

“We were dragged to a gathering where our community-headman was present. They told me to pay Rs50,000. When I said I couldn’t, they brutalised me,” the woman told The Times of India newspaper, from hospital.

The woman’s mother said: “The crime was committed by our own people. They tortured my daughter and dumped her home late at night. We were threatened not to go to police. We tried to go to Bolpur hospital but they stopped us.”

Reports said that following the overnight attack in Birbhum on Monday, the young woman and her family were threatened by those who ordered the assault. On Wednesday they were able to reach a local clinic, which sent them to a another facility, which in turn sent the woman to a hospital in Suri, the district headquarters.

This is not the first time that the area, located 120 miles north west of Kolkata,  has been at the centre of such a controversy. Four years ago, a teenage woman from a tribal community was stripped and forced to walk naked through four villages after she was accused of having a relationship that village elders did not approve of. The teenager was later given a bravery award by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The incident also echoes what happened to Pakistani woman Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang-raped on the orders of a Pakistani village council in 2002 to settle an issue of so-called honour.

Across India, village councils often hold huge power over people in rural communities and have often been guilty of carrying out their own courts and punishment.

In the states of Punjab and Haryana, so-called khap panchayats have been involved in the “honour killing” of couples from the same clan having a relationship.

Politicians who rely on such community elders for votes have been accused of failing to speak out on the matter. Meanwhile, those who flout the councils risk being ostracised.

“The West Bengal police must thoroughly investigate this alleged gang rape, and bring to justice those responsible,” said Divya Iyer, of Amnesty International India. “Khap panchayats notoriously issue extra-legal decrees ordering inhuman and sexually violent punishments against women, including “honour” killings.”

In West Bengal, police said a total of 13 people had been arrested and were being questioned. They were later brought before a court which ordered them to remanded in custody.

A series of rapes in India over the past year has sparked widespread concern about sexual violence and government failures to protect women. The gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student in December 2012 sparked protests across the country which pushed the government to introduce tougher penalties for sexual offenders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
News
Missing: 'Mail' columnist Peter Hitchens
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power