Police in northern India launched an investigation into a Rajasthan village council this week following reports that the members ordered a 6-year-old rape victim to marry the son of her alleged attacker.
According to the Indo-Asian News Service, police said the young girl was raped by a 40-year-old man in her Kota neighborhood about two weeks ago. After the fact, a “panchayati” council in the state convened and reportedly instructed the child’s parents to wed her to the accused’s 8-year-old son.
The 6-year-old was reportedly raped again Wednesday by the same attacker while both sides were negotiating the marriage.
After the second reported attack, activists in the region spurred the parents to file a complaint and accompanied them to a police station in the city.
The panchayati council, one of several in the region, is a secondary system of governance that runs parallel to India’s established government. Oftentimes, these caste councils, comprised of unelected elders of the village, assemble to settle local disputes.
However, the extent of their authority and extrajudicial decrees has come under scrutiny in recent years, especially in light of the councils’ stance on “honor killings,” a practice in which a family member thought to have brought shame on the family is killed.
The reported assaults against the 6-year-old girl are the most recent in a series of attacks in northern India. Last month, Jaipur police said a father confessed to raping his 3-year-old daughter and blamed his wife for denying him sex.