India’s West Bengal police officers have held 13 people in relation to a gang rape of a woman allegedly on orders of village officials who protested to her relationship with a man.
For bringing dishonor
The 20-year-old woman is admitted to a hospital in a critical condition. Unofficial courts in India’s villages normally sanction killings of couples believed to have dishonored local codes. Sexual violence in the country has increased since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.
The Indian government reinforced laws on sexual violence last year after the widespread protests on the attack. Discrimination and violence against women, however, are still deeply entrenched in the country’s patriarchal society.
Love is a crime?
Police officers said in an interview that the latest incident was prompted by the relationship between a non-tribal man belonging to an adjoining village in Birbhum district and a tribal woman. The relationship lasted for almost five years. Villagers spotted the non-tribal man’s proposal of marriage to the tribal woman and organized a kangaroo court.
The headman of the tribal woman fined the couple 25,000 rupees for “the crime of falling in love.” The man’s family paid up, but the woman was unable to pay, police officers said in an interview.