Two sisters from India, ages 15 and 23, were sentenced to be raped and paraded through their village naked after their brother ran away with a married woman. The all-male village council, none of whom were elected by members in the community, say that the sisters “must be punished” for their brother’s wrongdoing and ruled that the sisters should be raped and forced to walk through the town naked with their faces painted black.
The Daily Mail reports that two Indian sisters, 23-year-old Meenakshi Kumari and her unnamed 15-year-old sister, were sentenced to a punishment of rape and humiliation by a village council after their brother ran away with a married woman from a nearby tribe. According to the report, the two sisters are members of the Dalits caste. The Dalits are at the very bottom of India’s ancient caste system, but the girls’ brother fell in love with a woman from the higher Jat caste. The pair of lovers ran off together and got married, which was against the caste rules and resulted in the Kumari family facing torture by Jat caste members and village officials.
However, the local council felt the torture wasn’t enough and that the man’s transgressions should be punished more severely. As a result, the council ruled that the man’s two Kumari sisters were to be raped and made to walk the streets naked. Amnesty International notes that the “abhorrent” sentencing must be stopped and that the council is an illegally operating body.
“Unelected village councils such as this are widespread in parts of India. More often than not they are made up of older men from dominant castes, who prescribe rules for social behaviour and interaction in villages. The supreme court of India has described them as ‘kangaroo courts’ and branded their decrees illegal, yet in some states they continue to operate – and their punishments are carried out. “
Meenakshi Kumari has filed a petition with the supreme court in India to provide protection for the family against the illegal sentencing. Meenakshi’s father has also filed a complaint with police about harassment from his son’s wife’s family. Sumit Kumar, another brother of Meenakshi, says that members of the Jat caste are “powerful” and that the police have warned them that “anyone can be murdered now.”
The Kumari family has fled the village out of fear and are now awaiting a response from the supreme court. Meanwhile, the family fears for the Jat woman who married their brother in the “illegal” union. The family says they believe she is pregnant with their brother’s child and is in danger.
[Image Credit: Amnesty International]