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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
India probes 'rape sentence'

A court in India is considering taking action against a village council accused of ordering a woman to be raped.

The woman accuses elected councillors of ordering that she be raped by five men after she was accused of sexual misconduct in a public meeting in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

Indian women
Women often face abuse and oppression in India
The court in Jabalpur has ordered local officials to submit their version of events.

Some of those officials have denied any wrongdoing but have yet to explain the situation in court.

The woman in question says the rape did not take place after other villagers intervened.

Court order

The woman, a married 27-year old teacher, has asked the High Court in Jabalpur to take action against her local council.

She told an Indian satellite TV news channel that young schoolchildren were forced to give evidence against her in a public meeting, alleging that she had had illicit sexual relations with a man in the village.

She says she was ordered to pay a large fine or be raped.

The council and local officials have denied doing anything wrong but earlier this week, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh ordered various government officials to give evidence in response to the allegations.

Compensation

The woman's lawyer says she is entitled to compensation because her constitutional rights have been violated.

There have been previous cases in that part of India and brutal punishments ordered by local councils or political leaders over women accused of sexual misconduct, but nothing like a rape.

Women's rights activists say rural women in many parts of India suffer daily indignities and cases like these are firm evidence of their low status in village society.

See also:

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