A 20-year-old woman is lying in critical condition in hospital in the Indian state of West Bengal after she was allegedly gang-raped by at least a dozen men on the orders of a “salishi sabha” — a traditional village tribunal — in the state’s Birbhum district.
The villagers convened the makeshift tribunal after spotting the young woman with a lover. They tied them to a tree and fined the couple 50,000 rupees (around $800). The headman of the tribunal allegedly ordered the rape when the woman’s family refused or were unable to pay the fine. He has now been arrested along with the 12 other men.
Four years ago, a teenage girl in the same area was forced by villagers to walk naked through four villages for having an affair.
Ruling party Trinamool Congress’s member of parliament, Derek O’ Brien called the incident a “social malaise” that needs to change.
His government, however, is blamed by many in the state for failing to arrest rising crime against women. West Bengal topped India’s states for crimes against women in 2011 and 2012. Incidents like the gang rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl just an hour from Kolkata in October last year, and the rape of a fitness center employee in a moving vehicle in the heart of Kolkata a few days ago, have added fuel to public anger.