Woman stripped naked and paraded through Indian village on donkey

Her nephew's wife accused her of murder but police said he killed himself

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The Independent Online

A 45-year-old woman has been stripped naked and paraded through an Indian village on a donkey.

Her face was blackened with coal and her hair was cut to deepen the humiliation, police said.

The woman was accused of killing her nephew, Vardi Singh, by his wife and a council of elders, known as a panchayat, dealt her the punishment after deciding she was guilty.

The police, who could not inspect the body because it was cremated, believe he had killed himself in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan on 2 November.

His wife and other relatives first took their claims that he had been murdered by his aunt to officers and when they did not take action, they went to the village council.

Sudhir Joshi, the additional superintendent of police, told AFP: “The woman was in her house when some villagers stormed into the house and pulled her out on Saturday evening.

"They cut her hair, blackened her face and stripped her half naked. Then they mounted her on a donkey and paraded her in the village for ten minutes."

Her ordeal came to light when her husband lodged a complaint with the police, the Times of India reported. They arrested 30 people on Sunday, including nine members of her family.

An officer told the paper that the woman was led through the village on the donkey for an hour.

The victim has since been moved out of Thurval village into a shelter and is being given counselling.

Panchayat councils have no legal power but as the oldest system of local government across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, they are still adhered to in deprived rural areas.

Shreemat Pandey, Rajasthan's principal secretary for rural development, told the BBC it was “completely illegal” for the panchayat to hand down such a punishment.

It is not the first time such orders have been carried out in India, where numerous incidents of women being stripped naked in public and sometimes beaten have been recorded in recent years.

In October, the Hindustan Times reported that a woman in the eastern state of Jharkhand was stripped naked and filmed by her in-laws, who blackmailed her with the footage for a larger dowry.

A woman in her 60s was beaten and tied to an electricity pole naked in Orissa after being branded a witch by villages in July, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Village elders also ordered a 20-year-old woman to be gang raped earlier this year for having a relationship with a man outside the community.