REPUBLIC OF INDIA: Dalit sisters ordered to be raped

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4 Sep 2015
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Women's Rights

Amnesty International stands by its petition calling for the Indian authorities to ensure the safety and protection of the Dalit family.

Amnesty International has been actively working with, supporting and campaigning for the family, from the Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh state, after the Supreme Court provided its first response to the family’s petition seeking protection on 18 August.

In that petition, the family clearly stated that the unelected village council - khap panchayat - passed a decision ordering the rape of the two sisters as punishment for their brother eloping with a married woman. They also state that the council ordered for the sisters to be paraded naked with blackened faces.

Our office in India reviewed court documentation submitted by the family; spoke with their lawyer; and has also been in contact with other members of their community in the Baghpat district.

The family had to flee their village in May, in fear for their lives and safety and have been ostracized by many members of the community. We remain in regular contact with the family, who are in need of urgent protection which must be the main priority for the Indian authorities at this stage.

Amnesty International has been told by contacts on the ground that there is currently a climate of fear in the village where many members of the community feel unable to speak.

Amnesty International is calling on the Uttar Pradesh government to do everything possible to ensure their safety.

On 29 August 2015, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has instructed local officials to provide protection to the family. The case is also now being considered by India’s National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

This case reflects Amnesty International’s long-held awareness that khap panchayats in India routinely order sexually violent punishments against women, despite the country’s Supreme Court declaring these orders illegal.

Dalits in India are a marginalized group who are often victimized in their communities because they are at the bottom of the caste system.

1 September 2015

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