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Indian woman sentenced to public gang rape by village council

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A young woman has been publicly raped by up to 12 men as a punishment for an ‘unauthorised relationship’. The 20 year old was ‘sentenced’ to be gang raped by the elders of her village in West Bengal

Her ‘crime’ was to have apparently fallen in love with a man from a different village according to police who have made thirteen arrests in the case, including the village chief. The victim was reportedly ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 rupees (£490) by a council in her village of Subalpur for the supposedly illicit relationship. However when her family could not afford the fine, the gang rape sentence was passed. It is still unclear exactly how many men participated in the rape, but their numbers included the woman’s neighbours.

Police representative C Sudhakar said the woman said she lost count of how many men raped her during the sustained assault that lasted a whole night.

“According to the woman, the [village head] summoned her and her [lover] on Monday and detained them through the day and night. After her family said they could not pay the fine, the [head] allegedly ordered the mass rape” he said

The victim is currently in a critical condition in a local hospital.

Words like ‘shocking’, ‘vile’ and ‘evil’ all seem inadequate. India has become notorious for its sexual violence in recent years as more and more attacks are reported rather than swept under the carpet. The gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old in December 2012 let to outpourings of outrage across the country, with thousands taking to the streets in protests demanding tougher laws, better policing and a change in cultural and social attitudes. The government passed more punitive laws, doubling prison sentences for rape and criminalisng voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women.

Yet little seems to have changed in everyday terms. Last week a tourist was gang raped in Delhi and last month in West Bengal, a gym worker was raped by five men in a truck. In October, a woman was raped twice by the same group of men, once as she returned from a police station where she had given a statement about the first attack, and was then set on fire. She died.

How many more women will have their lives destroyed before basic humanity begins to prevail over warped cultural practice?

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