The ruling by the Zakopur village council in northern India that two men accused of raping a 15-year-old girl should each be hit with a shoe five times has provoked outrage.
The rape reportedly occurred on May 12 when the 15-year-old went to get water from a neighbor’s house. She was assaulted by the pair who threatened to kill her if she told anyone what had happened, Daily Mail reported.
After confronting the family of the two men, who are cousins, both parties agreed to use a village council, a panchayat, to reach a judgment.
According to an investigation officer, the victim’s family was infuriated by the ruling and subsequently filed a case with the police. The victim’s uncle stated that the council wanted to hush up the affair and only fined the pair the equivalent of $800 each on top of the five shoe beatings, the New India Express reported.
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The police officer confirmed that a case was registered May 31, and investigations are continuing.
This is the latest rape incident to hit the headlines in India. Indian authorities were notified of 309,546 crimes against women in 2013, marking a 26 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Daily Mail.
In some areas, village councils continue to use rape as a punishment for certain crimes, the Daily Mail notes. This occurred in January 2014, when a woman in a West Bengal village was gang-raped for having a relationship with a man from another community.
The problem of rape in India gained international attention after a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi in December 2012, resulting in her death.
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The government has been criticized for its unwillingness to openly discuss the rape problem, demonstrated most recently by its decision to ban a documentary on the 2012 incident, Reuters reported.
“I do not think it is a question of freedom of speech, it is more a question of law and respecting the victim and the judicial processes in this particular case,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said of his government’s decision to ban the screening of "India’s Daughter," according to Reuters.
In the documentary, one of the accused rapists blamed the victim and claimed she should not have resisted. Victim-blaming is a persistent problem in Indian society, the Daily Mail reports.
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