Horror Show Sunday: Rape as Punishment

Hey, rape as revenge, that’s a new one, right?  Well, not so much, no.  In the Baghpat district, just outside of Delhi, India, two sisters have been sentenced to be paraded naked in front of the town and raped as retribution because their brother dared to run off with a married woman of a higher caste.

When Ravi Kumari fell in love with a woman who had been betrothed by her parents to someone else, they ran away together to be happy. Unfortunately, Ravi came from the lowest social caste in India, the so-called “untouchables”.  Even more unfortunately, Ravi’s two sisters, 23-year old Meenakshi and her unnamed 15-year old sister, have been tapped to pay the cost for this social faux pas.  Ordered by an unelected all-male town council to be paraded naked around town before being raped for their brother’s transgression, this is not as unusual as you might expect or hope.

Amnesty International calls the decision “sickening” and have petitioned the Principal Secretary of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Unfortunately, this  form of local “law”, referred to as “panchayats”, is tightly ingrained in a lot of these small villages, where religion and the religious moral views of the male elders hold sway over the law.

The Kumari family fled their village after their family home was ransacked.  They have been petitioning the government for protection so they can return home, but so far, no help has been forthcoming.  This is a serious problem in an India that contains two worlds, the modern, advanced, technological world that exists mostly in the big cities and the backward, highly religious, superstitious world that exists once you go beyond them.  In a lot of ways, it looks much like the tribal society of the Muslims in the Middle East, where beliefs and religious traditions rule how everyone is treated and where punishment is often swift, violent and horrific, especially for those who fall outside of the religious ruling class.

Hopefully the Kumari girls can find somewhere else to live, I don’t think it will ever be safe, no matter how much protection they are promised by the government.  This is yet another example of where religion goes horribly, horribly wrong and a culture based on it’s dictates can land you right on Horror Show Sunday.

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