India woman gang raped on orders of village council of elders over affair with man of different religion

Indian activists shout slogans as they protest against the gang rape of a 21-year-old woman in the city in Kolkata, India, Jan. 21, 2014. AP

KOLKATA, India -- Police in India's West Bengal state said Thursday that a young woman has been gang raped on the orders of a village council because she fell in love with a man from a different religion.

Police official C. Sudhakar said that 13 men have been arrested in connection with the case.

CBS News' Sanjay Jha says the woman reportedly told police that when villagers caught them together at her house, the senior village elder and a few others immediately called for "court" to he held. Both the woman and the man were each ordered to pay a 25,000 rupee ($405) fine.

When her family said they were too poor to pay, the council ordered the gang rape.

Sudhakar said the woman said she lost count of how many men raped her during the night-long ordeal that occurred Monday. She reportedly knew well many of the local men who attacked her.

The woman was in a hospital in the state's Birbhum district where doctors said her condition was serious.

Subalpur is about 110 miles north of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

  A rash of high-profile rapes over the past year has sparked widespread outrage over chronic sexual violence in India and government failures to protect women.

The West Bengal case is particularly troubling because the alleged rape apparently was sanctioned by a council made up of village elders. Such councils are not legally binding in India, but they are seen as the will of the local community. The councils decide on social norms in the village and in some villages prescribe the way women can dress, or who they can marry. Those who flout the councils risk being ostracized.

Last month, India marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi that triggered nationwide protests.

The outrage spurred the government to adopt more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women. Fast-track courts have been created for rape cases.


Comments