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    Jan 24, 2014

    Village council orders gang-rape of Indian woman


    INDIAN police said yesterday that they have arrested 13 people after a 20-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped on orders from tribal elders who objected to her relationship with a man.

    The council, in a village in West Bengal state, meted out the horrific penalty on Tuesday night after the woman was discovered with a Muslim man from another village, a senior police officer said.

    The police have arrested 13 people, including the chief of the village council.

    The woman, her head wrapped in a scarf, confirmed the attack when confronted by television crews, saying softly: "They raped me...all of them were my father's age."

    The attack put India's record on sexual violence back in the spotlight, following national outrage over the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012.

    The incident took place in Subalpur village, about 240km west of the state capital Kolkata, after the couple were discovered on Monday.

    District police superintendent C. Sudhakar said: "The head of the village council held an urgent meeting in the village square on Tuesday...The girl and her lover were tied to separate trees, and fined 25,000 rupees each for having an affair.

    "As the parents of the girl, who were present at the meeting, expressed their inability to pay the fine, the head of the village council ordered that she be raped by the villagers as punishment."

    The man was freed after he agreed to pay the fine within a week, he added.

    The incident echoed an attack on a woman in neighbouring Pakistan in 2002 on the orders of a village council, to avenge her 12-year-old brother's alleged impropriety with a woman from a rival clan.

    Six men were sentenced to death for the rape of the illiterate Pakistani woman, Ms Mukhtar Maiher, in a landmark ruling there. But five were later acquitted and the main culprit had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment.