News / Asia

    India’s Tribal Councils Under Fire After Gang Rape

    India’s Tribal Councils Under Fire After Gang Rapei
    X
    April 04, 2014 4:18 PM
    Two months after a woman was gang raped in eastern India at the orders of a tribal court, the Supreme Court has directed the state of West Bengal to compensate the tribal woman, saying it failed to protect her fundamental rights. The incident not only highlights the continued problem of sexual violence in India, but has led to increased scrutiny of tribal councils and the punishments they are said to dole out. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from West Bengal.
    Aru PandeShaikh Azizur Rahman
    Two months after a woman was gang raped in eastern India at the orders of a tribal court, the Supreme Court has directed the state of West Bengal to compensate the tribal woman, saying it failed to protect her fundamental rights. The incident not only highlights the continued problem of sexual violence in India, but has led to increased scrutiny of tribal councils and the punishments they are said to dole out.
     
    Life in the quiet village in the Birbhum district of West Bengal state was shaken in late January after what is said to have taken place in a hut.
     
    A 20-year-old member of the Santhal tribe said she was raped by neighbors in the Subalpur village for having a relationship with a man from a different community. Police have arrested 13 men in connection with the attack, including the tribal headman who allegedly ordered the rape as punishment after the woman’s family failed to pay a $420 fine (25,000 Indian rupees).
     
    Villager Mallika Tudu says she witnessed the proceedings and that Santhal tribe members were not involved in the decision.
     
    “Santhal villagers were there as bystanders and had no role in the trial," she said. "The political leaders, just to save themselves from trouble, are now putting the whole blame on the Santhals.”

    Such village courts are not uncommon in India’s vast rural area, where elders settle disputes and deliver judgments on those accused of violating local traditions.
     
    But Nityananda Hembram, a senior leader of India’s largest tribal community says the gang rape was ordered by politically-linked village leaders and not Santhals.
     
    “They [Santhal councils] have a very high order of a decision-making process," he said. "Their judicial system is that they will never give any punishment to the people concerned. They amicably solve the problem.”
     
    Prasenjit Biswas, a professor at North Eastern Hill University in the eastern state of Meghalaya, says tribal councils have been “hijacked” by political parties.
     
    “The identity of the Santhals as a tribe here is under grave threat because the very social order on which this identity is based can be played with by some external forces using their political economic and social influences," he said. "And the influences are so disparaging that it completely denigrates the tribal social custom and tries to project it as something outdated.”
     
    Amid the outrage surrounding the gang rape and sharp criticism of kangaroo courts, members of West Bengal’s Santhal tribal community have taken to the streets to defend their traditional practices.
     
    Demonstrators have called for India’s Central Bureau of Investigation to intervene to determine who exactly was involved in ordering the gang rape of the young tribal woman.
     
    She was released from the hospital in February and is not expected to return to her village.  The Supreme Court says the tribal woman’s case, which comes more than a year after a shocking gang rape aboard a bus in the Indian capital, is the “epitome of aggression against a woman” and that it could have been prevented.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora