01/23/2014, 00.00
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West Bengal, 20 year-old gang raped: her boyfriend is from another tribe

The head of her village ordered a trial and sexual violence to punish her. Now the victim is in the hospital and identified her rapists, who were arrested by the police. Catholic Bishop : "In order to stop the violence we need to change the mindset, not resort to the death penalty”.

Birbhum (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Raped by 13 men from her village as "punishment" for being engaged to a boy from another community. This is the plight of a 20 year old tribal woman from the district of Birbhum (West Bengal).  The incident took place on  January 20, but the news was announced just today, after her parents were able to take her to hospital . The victim is in critical, but stable condition, and the police have already arrested 13 men .

It all began three mornings ago, when she brought her boyfriend to her village in Subalpur to introduce him to her parents. According to police reports, the young man wanted to make a marriage proposal. At a certain point, some locals saw the couple and dragged them before the Morol , the village chief . The tribal leader convoked a "kangaroo court" , a mock court : the two were bound and "sentenced" to pay a fine of 25 thousand rupees each . The family can not pay, so the local village chief ordered the other villagers to "have fun with her". "The other inhabitants - her mother reveals- took my husband, myself and our son, who was present away. Then they took my daughter to the Morol's house and raped her all throughout the night".

The next morning the rapists brought her back to her home and forced her parents to remain locked inside the house. "After torturing her - says her mother - we were told not to go to the police". After several attempts, yesterday her parents escaped and brought their daughter to the hospital in Suri , where she denounced what happened, identified her attackers . Among them, the village chief. The police arrested them.

Also known as shalishi sabhas , these "courts" are common in some villages of West Bengal . In 2003, the previous government had tried to give them a semblance of legality, restricting their areas of expertise to civil and not criminal disputes. However, the bill was never passed, because it was seen as a way to grab tribal votes by subverting the Indian judicial system . As such, no Morol has the right nor the power to intervene in the private lives of the inhabitants of his village.

After the New Delhi gang rape in December 2012, a strong protest movement against violence against women came to life which has prompted the central government to tighten laws for the crime of rape , which now also includes capital punishment. However Msgr. Dominic Savio Fernandes, President of the Commission for Family and Women and the Commission for Human life of the Archdiocese of Mumbai , noted to AsiaNews that " experience has shown that the death penalty is not and can never be a solution, although many people believe that it represents a deterrent to eliminate the brutal crimes in the future . "


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