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India Gender and Sexuality

Rajasthan: Khap fines rape survivor for failing virginity test

Woman’s family directed to pay Rs 10 lakhs for “purification ceremony”

Sabrangindia 06 Sep 2022

IndiaRepresentation Image


On Saturday, September 2, a 24-year-old woman from Bhilwara filed charges against her husband and in-laws for harassing her family for money. The woman, a rape survivor, had been directed by the local khap to pay them Rs 10 lakhs to conduct a “purification ritual” after she “failed” a virginity test.

Such virginity tests, locally called kukadi pratha, are an age-old practice based on archaic ideas of chastity. They are also illegal. However, as this instance shows, this practice is still prevalent in the area.

The woman was humiliated thrice. First, a neighbour allegedly raped her a few months before she got married. Then, on May 11, on her first night in her new home, she was forced to undergo the kukadi pratha. She told her in-laws about the rape, and even lodged a rape complaint with the local police station on May 18. Finally, on May 30, the local khap ruled that as she had “failed” the virginity test, she would be required to pay her in-laws Rs 10 lakhs so that they may conduct a “purification ritual”.

In the four months since then, the woman’s family has allegedly been pressured and harassed to pay up. Unable to bear any further harassment, the woman filed a complaint with the police.

DSP Surendra Kumar told the Times of India, “We have registered a case under 498A (coercing a woman to meet any unlawful demand), 384 (extortion), 509 (insulting the modesty of woman) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.” He added, “The fact that the identity of the victim has been revealed by the khap panchayat in is also a crime.”

In fact, the FIR says that the woman’s in-laws had assaulted her before the khap panchayat was convened at a local temple. Police also told the publication that a daughter of the in-laws’ family had died by suicide a year ago after she faced similar circumstances.  

Such virginity tests are often demanded by families, who know that they will have the full backing of khaps, that are local organisations of community leaders who enforce traditional laws and practices. Previously khap panchayats have been accused of supporting killing of couples in inter-faith or inter-caste relationships. The dishonourable practice has unfortunately been dubbed “honour killing”.

 

Related:

TN Dalit couple fined, barred temple entry for inter-sect marriage

Junagadh couple allegedly killed in caste-based murder amid national lockdown

Rajasthan: Khap fines rape survivor for failing virginity test

Woman’s family directed to pay Rs 10 lakhs for “purification ceremony”

IndiaRepresentation Image


On Saturday, September 2, a 24-year-old woman from Bhilwara filed charges against her husband and in-laws for harassing her family for money. The woman, a rape survivor, had been directed by the local khap to pay them Rs 10 lakhs to conduct a “purification ritual” after she “failed” a virginity test.

Such virginity tests, locally called kukadi pratha, are an age-old practice based on archaic ideas of chastity. They are also illegal. However, as this instance shows, this practice is still prevalent in the area.

The woman was humiliated thrice. First, a neighbour allegedly raped her a few months before she got married. Then, on May 11, on her first night in her new home, she was forced to undergo the kukadi pratha. She told her in-laws about the rape, and even lodged a rape complaint with the local police station on May 18. Finally, on May 30, the local khap ruled that as she had “failed” the virginity test, she would be required to pay her in-laws Rs 10 lakhs so that they may conduct a “purification ritual”.

In the four months since then, the woman’s family has allegedly been pressured and harassed to pay up. Unable to bear any further harassment, the woman filed a complaint with the police.

DSP Surendra Kumar told the Times of India, “We have registered a case under 498A (coercing a woman to meet any unlawful demand), 384 (extortion), 509 (insulting the modesty of woman) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.” He added, “The fact that the identity of the victim has been revealed by the khap panchayat in is also a crime.”

In fact, the FIR says that the woman’s in-laws had assaulted her before the khap panchayat was convened at a local temple. Police also told the publication that a daughter of the in-laws’ family had died by suicide a year ago after she faced similar circumstances.  

Such virginity tests are often demanded by families, who know that they will have the full backing of khaps, that are local organisations of community leaders who enforce traditional laws and practices. Previously khap panchayats have been accused of supporting killing of couples in inter-faith or inter-caste relationships. The dishonourable practice has unfortunately been dubbed “honour killing”.

 

Related:

TN Dalit couple fined, barred temple entry for inter-sect marriage

Junagadh couple allegedly killed in caste-based murder amid national lockdown

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