Rape Victim In India Required To Undergo Ancient 'Purity Test'

| by Maura Turcotte

So she can live with her husband once again, a rape victim in India must participate in a brutal and unusual ritual — she must balance a heavy rock on her head.

Since her rape, the woman, who requested to not be identified, has faced nothing but an uphill battle. Left her pregnant after her attack, she requested to have an abortion, but the Gujarat High Court in India denied her.

Then, after giving birth, the woman had to give up the child to the government.

Now, the woman lives in fear of her life, claiming her attacker has already threatened to kill her once he gets out of jail, reports Vice News.

To be allowed to live with her husband, the woman must prove herself in an incredibly difficult task. The tradition, called agnipariksha, asks women who have suffered sexual abuse or have questionable chastity to “prove (their) purity” by balancing a 40 kilogram rock — nearly 90 pounds — on their heads, reports The Express Tribune.

The test comes from the Hindu epic poem "Ramayana," in which the Princess Sita, after being kidnapped, proves her chastity to her husband by sitting in a fire.

Today, as The Express Tribune reports, the ritual only occurs in certain parts of India where the belief still persists that women become “tainted” after being sexually abused.

The treatment of women as well as the topic of rape have proved to be sources of huge controversy for India for the past several years. In 2012, a group of men gang raped a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi, sparking outcries globally. In March, a group gang raped a 71-year-old nun, The Express Tribune documents.

As Michael Kugelman, the senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, explained to Vice News, these views don’t just harm women, but the country overall.

"India has global aspirations and wants to project itself prominently on the world stage, but back home it continues to face challenges that have dogged it for years, including patriarchal mentalities that have damaging consequences for women.”

Sources: The Express Tribune, Vice News / Photo credit: The Express Tribune