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Indian sisters sentenced to be raped because of their brother’s affair

dalit-eating-640x360By Kimberly Truong From Mashable

A village council in India has ordered two young women to be raped after their brother eloped with a married woman from a higher caste.

One of the women from the Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh in India, 23-year-old Meenakshi Kumari, has asked the Indian Supreme Court for protection. Human rights organization Amnesty International has been spreading awareness about the case and collecting tens of thousands of signatures to petition local authorities to intervene.

After the unelected council last month ordered for Meenakshi and her 15-year-old sister “be raped and paraded naked” as punishment for their brother’s affair, the sisters and their family fled to Delhi, according to Amnesty International. Their home was later looted by members of the higher caste.

The brother, identified as Ravi by The Independent, had fallen in love with a woman from the upper-class Jat community. Meenakshi’s family are members of the Dalit caste, otherwise known as the “untouchables.”

Indians are born into their caste and social norms dictate how they can interact with one another. Though the 1950 Constitution of India banned discrimination based on caste, the process of disbanding deeply-rooted prejudices hasn’t been easy.

violence-womenAccording to Meenakshi’s petition to the Supreme Court, which was filed in early August, Ravi and the woman whom he eloped with had already fallen in love before the woman was forced to marry a Jat boy. A month after her marriage, she and Ravi eloped, but they later returned home after being pressured by the woman’s family and the Utter Pradesh police.

“The said elopement invited the wrath of the Jat community and UP Police and as a retaliatory measure her family members were abducted and tortured by police,” Meenakshi’s appeal says, according to the Times of India. “Her family had to flee their village and her home looted and possessed by the Jats.” “Her family had to flee their village and her home looted and possessed by the Jats.”

A new petition from Amnesty International details the Kumari family’s plight, and calls for the council to repeal their decree. According to the petition, Sumit Kumar, Meenakshi’s other brother, claims that the village council includes members of the Jat community, and that “the Jat decision is final.”

At the time of writing, Amnesty’s petition had surpassed its original goal of 50,000 signatures, with about 56,000 people pledging their names. The advocacy group has set a new goal of 75,000 signatures, stating that it will “demand that the local authorities intervene immediately.”

Amnesty International is also urging those concerned to take action by writing letters directly to authorities in Utter Pradesh to ensure the Kumari family’s safety.

A woman attends a peace protest in Ahmedabad on March 20, 2015.IMAGE: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Dalit women in blue saree, eat a meal with Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on April 13, 2015. IMAGE: AP PHOTO/MANISH SWARUP/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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