Two low-caste Indian sisters have allegedly been threatened with rape by a village council, sparking an Amnesty International petition seeking protection and justice for them. Yiming Woo reports.
Twenty-three-year-old Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister have been forced to flee with their family from their village in northern India. An un-elected village council in Uttar Pradesh, dominated by men from a higher caste, allegedly ordered the sisters be raped and then paraded naked with their faces blackened. They are being punished because their brother eloped with a woman of a caste higher than his. (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) WOMAN THREATENED WITH RAPE, MEENAKSHI KUMARI, SAYING: "They threatened us by saying they will claim honour for honour. They said, 'What has been meted out to our woman will be done to yours. Since you have two girls in your home, we will rape both of your girls too'." Amnesty International India has started an online petition seeking protection and justice for the two sisters. The group's Himanshi Matta says they've gathered over 175,000 signatures in a week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INDIA'S MEDIA OFFICER, HIMANSHI MATTA, SAYING: "A thorough investigation is ordered into the case and the facts of the case are brought to light. And if there is existence of a Khap Panchayat (village council), or if there is an existence of such dominant groups trying to threaten people, then they are brought to book." The district's police have dismissed the case, saying there was no evidence that the order has been passed. But the Kumari family claims they're being influenced by the council members, who have considerable political and economic power in the region.