Council Orders Indian Girl to be Raped as Punishment for Her Brother's Crime

through-the-veil-photo-by-joel-dousset.jpg

Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:58 p.m. DST, 15 July 2014

Sarpanch Pinky Devi with her kid. Kabza Gram Panchayat, District Dungarpur, Rajasthan

SWANG GULGULIA DHOURA, India — A 13-year-old girl in a rural Indian village was condemned to be raped by the head of her village as a punishment for her older brother. The girl's brother, according to CNN, attempted to rape a married woman, and as his punishment, the woman's husband was ordered to rape the man's younger sister.

The woman that was allegedly attacked, Suguna Devi, is the daughter of the village's headman, Ghosal Pasi, The New York Times reported. She was groped by the teenage girl's older brother, Harendra Pasi, after he entered her hut in the night after drinking a "kind of rice beer." He was thwarted by the woman's husband, Nakabandi Pasi, after her screams awoke the village.

The morning after the incident, the father of the teenage girl and the alleged assaulter went to Ghosal Pasi and asked them to reach some kind of terms. He says he told the head man, "My son did wrong, and we are willing to take the punishment. if you want to impose a punishment, then beat him," but he did not receive an answer from him.

Despite his efforts, the local council that afternoon convened to discuss the punishment for the attempted rape. The local council determined that the husband raping the teenage sister of his wife's attempted rapist would be retribution, despite the girl having no involvement in the case.

The local council that ordered the rape, known as panchayats in India, act as the judicial system for rural villages. The male-dominated council are highly ranked according to Indian caste governance and thus have the authority to punish indiscriminately. They are known in India to deliver harsh, medieval sentences. CNN says that some of their rulings include forcing women to marry their rapists, some brides as young as six, and ordering gang-rapes. In a culture where a woman is a man's property and her "honor" is her value, raping woman is seen as a severe punishment for men.

After the panchayat made the ruling, the teenage girl said that the wife and her husband came to her home. According to CNN, the girl told reporters that the wife, "dragged me out of my house. She handed me over to her husband and told him to take me away to a nearby forest and rape me." And he did.

The father of the girl, Munna Pasi said that no one from the village stepped in to help save his daughter. He told reporters, "My wife wept, but nobody listened. My daughter said, 'Save me, save me,' but nobody listened. All these people became blind when he was dragging my daughter away." A neighbor, Sunita Devi, and another woman heard the girl's screams did not step in claiming, "We did not know he was going to rape her."

However, the girl was raped by the husband of Suguna Devi in an attack that lasted forty-five minutes, according to The New York Times. They say she then limped an hour's distance to the nearest police station to report it. Since then police arrested the headman Ghosal Pasi and the husband of Suguna Devi in relation to the girl's rape and the girl's brother, Harendra Pasi, in connection with the attempted rape of Suguna Devi.

The children of the headman Ghosal Pasi, Suguna Devi and her brother Gupta Kumar continue to proclaim his innocence in ordering the rape of the young girl. Gupta Kumar says, "My father did not order anything. Out of anger my brother-in-law did this thing." While Suguna Devi promises that if the police release her father and Munna Pasi, the girl's father drops the charges then, "if something will happen, people will go to the police station."

Vinod Vishwakarma, head of an elected village council involved in this area is not so convinced that this incident will discredit the panchayat system. He tells The New York Times, "There is a practice here, to sort out matters themselves." Harkening back to the neighbors who did nothing, Vishwakarma says, "I spoke to some women, they said if something like this will happen in our village again we will oppose it. But when the girl tried to seek help from people, they turned away their faces. That's the fact."

One of those who is attempting to defy the panchayat system by pressing charges against the headman Ghosal Pasi is Munna Pasi, the girl's father. He is pressured by his village to drop the charges, but he stands firm declaring, " When this was done to my family and my daughter, nobody came forward to help us. Why should I be lenient to anybody?"

With mounting hostility from the other villagers for turning in their headman, district police have also placed two armed guards outside the girl's hut and politicians have come by offering small cash gifts and foodstuffs.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Pregnant Pakistani Stoned in "Honor Killing" Outside High Court

stoning-of-woman.jpg

LAHORE, Pakistan -- Islam does not allow for "honor killings." And yet, a 25-year-old pregnant Pakistani woman is the latest victim of murder at the hands of her family. The couple had been engaged for several years, and were only recently married.

Farzana Parveen was beaten and stoned to death earlier today, 27 May 2014, outside of a high court in Lahore. Parveen and her newlywed husband Mohammad Iqbal had traveled to the court earlier today to debunk claims that Iqbal had abducted Parveen. The bride's family had reported the false claims to police in order to regain custody of the woman.

Before the couple had a chance to testify their mutual love, they were surrounded by a group in excess of 20. According to police, someone in the crowd shot a handgun into the air as the mob attempted to kidnap Parveen. Their efforts were ineffective, and at this point the assemblage struck Parveen with sticks and stoned her with bricks from an adjacent construction site. The brutal public display is continuing to draw disapproval by officials and the community.

The attackers included her father and several brothers. So far, only her father, Mohammad Azeem, has been detained. Officials are now searching for the brothers and other family members that conspired in the brutal murder.

Conservative communities in Pakistan practice arranged marriage. Through matrimony, many Pakistani families seek to associate with another family of like class, wealth and ethnicity. Today, marriage outside of this tradition is performed more often, but the stigma against an unendorsed marriage is strong.

According to Amnesty International, 960 "honor killings" were recorded in Pakistan in 2010. That number could likely be higher, as crimes against women are often unpunished and underreported in the region. Most follow a similar equation--males execute a female family member, in order to redeem the family name for the alleged immorality of the female relative.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Related articles

Death by Marriage | Rape Victim Amina Filali

mukhtar-mai-pakistani-gang-rape-survivor-and-activist-photo-by-lauren-rose-without-a-thorn.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:31 PM EDT, 18 March 2012

Mukhtar Mai

MOROCCO – On Saturday, 17 March 2012, thousands of people around the world awoke to the horror of the suicide of a young girl who had been forced to marry her rapist.

Her rapist was given the option of marrying the girl under Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code. This antiquated law allows for a rapist to marry his victim to escape prosecution. It is a law that has been used to justify a traditional practice of ‘preserving’ the honor of the woman's family by making the victim marry her victimizer or face certain death.

Amina Al Filali, 16, swallowed rat poison yesterday in protest of her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier. Rape victims face numerous challenges in seeking justice and healing, but in cultures where the ‘honor’ of the family outweighs the rights of its ‘less valued’ members, a rape victim can be placed in an untenable predicament.

Moroccan families of rape victims, who have availed themselves of this resolution, admit that they coerce the victims into marrying their rapists out of fear that she won’t be able to find a husband if the community finds out that she has been raped.

In many societies throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the loss of a woman's virginity prior to marriage, not only reduces her ‘value,’ but causes a great scandal which ‘injures’ the entire family. The rape victim is thereby sacrificed so that the males who did not protect her can absolve themselves of further responsibility.

In the photo above, a Pakistani woman, Mukhtar Mai, was gang-raped in 2002 on orders of a traditional village council as punishment for acts allegedly committed by her younger brother. Rather than retreat into silence or commit suicide (the expected response when dishonor is brought to a family), Mukhtar Mai testified against the perpetrators. She used the compensation money she later received to build schools and a shelter for abused women.

As in the States, the burden of proof of rape rest solely on the victim’s ability to prove she was attacked and that she didn’t ‘ask’ for it by putting herself in a compromising situation. In countries where ‘honor’ killings are prevalent, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery if she is unable to prove that she was raped.

In the case of Amina, according to her father, Lahcen Filali, the court pushed the marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. He only consented when faced with a potential 5 to 10 years in prison, which is the penalty under Moroccan law for rape. However, because Amina was a minor when she was raped, her attacker would have faced 10 to 20 years if he chose to go to court.

Immediately after the marriage, Amina complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly with increasing ferocity during the five short months of their marriage. Her mother as much a victim of societal pressure and expectations as her daughter, counseled patience.

Amina was subjected first to rape, then to a child-marriage, and finally to repeated physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her rapist. In a society where she had no voice, she chose the only option available to her, to take her own life.

Ironically, it may be this act of desperation that is giving voice to the countless others who are stuck in similar nightmares. Though Morocco updated its family code in 2004, Fouzia Assouli, a women’s rights activists and president of Democratic League for Women's Rights, says there remains a long road to achieve equality.

'It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,' she said. 'We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice. In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual and legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been stuck in the government since 2006.’

In recent years, reports of young women who have been raped, and then sentenced to death by stoning, have been reported from Nigeria to Iran.

Last year the plight of rape victims in Afghanistan was featured in an European Union (EU) commissioned documentary about Afghan woman serving prison time for so-called “moral crimes.” The EU blocked the film’s release – saying it would endanger the women involved in the film. (Source: Aljazeera)

In an unfathomable abuse of justice, Gulnaz, 21, who was brutally raped by her husband’s cousin, was serving a 12-year sentence for adultery. While in prison, she was raising her infant daughter, who is the offspring of her attacker. By contrast, her rapist only received a 7-year sentence.

President Hamid Karzai, under immense international pressure finally agreed to pardon Gulnaz with ‘no conditions.’ Initial petitions for her freedom required that she marry her attacker, a stipulation which she categorically rejected.

Perhaps it was because of Amina’s youth, her parent’s pressure or unrelenting physical abuse, but unlike Gulnaz, Amina was not strong enough to hold onto hope or life. A Facebook page called 'We are all Amina Filali has been formed and an online petition calling for Morocco to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias