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Indian Supreme Court Orders Investigation Into Gang Rape

Indian police personnel escort men, tied with rope, who are accused of a gang-rape, to a court at Birbhum district in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, Jan. 23, 2014.
Indian media reported that the Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the gang rape of a 20-year-old woman, allegedly attacked earlier this week on the orders of a village council.

The Press Trust of India said the court, led by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, expressed shock over the incident.

Authorities said 13 people, including the village chief, have been arrested in connection with the case.

Officials said the council in a remote village in West Bengal state ordered the rape because the woman fell in love with a man from a different ethnic group.

Officials allege the village council ordered the man and woman to each pay a fine of 25,000 rupees, or $400. They say the man's family was able to pay. However, when the woman's family said it was too poor to pay the fine, the council ordered the gang rape.

The woman is recovering from her injuries in a local hospital.

A report in the Times of India said the woman's cries could be heard all night long and no one stepped forward to help her.

Reports from the area suggest that the woman is a member of an ethnic tribal group and the man is a Muslim from a neighboring village.

The council that allegedly ordered the rape is made up of the village elders. Such councils are not legally binding in India, but are seen as the will of the community.

Violence against women has received increasing attention in India in the past year. Reports of several gang rapes, including one that resulted in the death of a student in late 2012, have at times brought protesters to the streets, calling for greater law enforcement and tougher punishments for men who harass and attack women.