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 Rehman
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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid