New Delhi/ Birbhum, Feb.7 ANI | 2 years ago

Women activists called for a serious scrutiny in the recent the gang rape of young tribal woman that was carried on orders of village council (kangaroo court) in Birbhum district of West Bengal.

National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie D.Raja on Friday said that women's issues were a serious matter that was hampering the growth of the country.

"The West Bengal government and every single political party of the country should think on this matter seriously, as now even the political parties are using rape and woman's body as a weapon. A lot of things are going wrong in our country which are a barrier to the country's growth,"said Raja.

On January 25, West Bengal Governor M. K. Narayanan pressed for corporal punishment for the 13 accused in the alleged gang rape of a young tribal woman carried out on orders of the village council (kangaroo court) in Birbhum district.

On the same day as the protest,Kolkata also held a candle light march till the Suri Sadar Hospital where the the gang rape victim is undergoing treatment and prayed for her well being.

The woman, who is recovering in hospital, told police she was assaulted by the men on Monday night in the Birbhum, West Bengal, as punishment for violating rules of her tribe by having a relationship with a man from a different community.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Salim said it was unacceptable that such a heinous crime against a woman was carried out without the knowledge of the police.

"If you look at the recent gangrape case and the increasing number of rape cases in West Bengal, the numbers are surely on a rise. People involved with Trinamool Congress and the police hardly take notice of that and there is no proper system. In every district of the state, gang rape is used as a weapon to instigate political anger and influence," said Salim.

Police said her male companion was tied up in the village square, while the woman was assaulted in a mud house.

A forensic team has also arrived at the place where the victim was raped, to collect scientific evidence related to the case.

The couple was ordered to pay a fine of 25,000 rupees said the victim's mother. When they failed to pay, the village head then ordered the rape of her daughter, she said.

Human rights groups say such orders issued by kangaroo courts are not uncommon in rural regions in India.

National vice president of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) Jagmati Sangwan said: "This is not just a women gang rape but the gang rape of our democracy and people who believe in the functioning of the democracy will not take it anymore. Earlier the victim's family was asked to boycott the village and then this shameful incident took place with the woman. This incident is totally denounced."

Reportedly, the woman was ordered to be raped by 'Salishi Sabha', a self-styled group that dispenses justice.

In parts of northern parts, illegal village councils known as "Khap Panchayats" act as de-facto courts settling rural disputes on everything from land, cattle, matrimony to murder.

But such councils are coming under growing scrutiny as their punitive edicts grow more regressive -- ranging from banning women from wearing western clothing and using mobile phones to supporting child marriage and sanctioning the lynching of young couples in so-called "honour killings".

The incident comes after a spate of high profile rapes in West Bengal which have brought Chief Minister, Mamta Banerjee, under fire for not doing enough to stop violence against women.

West Bengal recorded the highest number of gender crimes in the country at 30,942 in 2012 - 12.7 percent of India's total recorded crimes against women. These crimes include rape, kidnapping and sexual harassment and molestation.

Earlier this month, Kolkata witnessed public protests against police who have been accused of failing to act on the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl who was later murdered.

India toughened laws on sex crimes in March last year following the fatal gang rape of a physiotherapist on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012. The case led to nationwide protests for better security and has helped sparked national debate about gender inequalities in India.

(Posted on 07-02-2014)

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