It turns out that the claim was false. As highlighted by the Friendly Atheist …
Reporters for Reuters have been looking for confirmation of this story, conducting interviews with locals and even talking with the family members themselves. As far as they can tell, there’s no evidence of this punishment being handed down. The family asked for protection, yes, but there’s no evidence the council actually issued the grotesque punishment in the first place.
… family members said in interviews with Reuters the information that the council made such an order may have just been gossip. “It is all hearsay, we don’t know if this actually happened,” said Dharam Pal Singh, 55, the women’s father and a retired soldier. “We heard it from other villagers.”
There were many discrepancies in the accounts offered by the families of the sisters and the married woman, members of the village council, the lawyer who drew up the Supreme Court petition, and police officials. But no one said they had any evidence that the council had handed down the rape punishment, as alleged in the court petition. The petition said the council was comprised of upper caste men.
The village council is actually more than 80 percent female and headed by a woman who, like the sisters, is from the bottom of the caste hierarchy.
“How many times do I have to tell you that there was no meeting?” said Bala Devi, 55, who has run the council for the last five years. “We spend our time discussing mundane things like fixing the roads or water pumps.”
So basically … I’m sorry, I got this one wrong … my apologies.
Much to my surprise, amnesty still have the petition up and rolling and are still asking people to sign up …
Amnesty said it did not investigate the case or visit the village, and instead relied on the court submission. Gopika Bashi, women’s rights campaigner at Amnesty International India, said that despite the doubts cast over the story there were no plans to withdraw its petition.”We will continue to push for protection for the family,” she said.
I get that the rights of women is a huge issue in rural India, but maintaining a petition for protection from something that has not been decreed is a more than a little bit odd, but it may be wise to suspend judgement on that, there could still be information we are missing here.
One further thought … it is actually good news that this story is not true, it means the world is actually a slightly better place than we previously thought it to be a few days ago.