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Gang-rape victim raped for 8 Months ordered to undergo “purification ritual”

The shy, softly spoken 23-year-old Indian woman from the state of Gujarat was abducted by five men and repeatedly raped. When returning to her village, the victim was forced by the local community to undergo a ritual of "purification" that is, and according to local customs, holding a stone of 40 kilos on the victim's head.

The victim, whose name is not revealed for legal reasons, suffered as a sex slave during eight months. When she was finally able to escape and return home, where she was expected by her husband and two children,

She is now heavily pregnant and her petition for abortion was turned down by the Gujarat High Court because she was too advanced in her pregnancy and canno longer allowed the possibility of abortion in accordance with state law.

The parents in law forbade the victim to return back to the family, which as a result firced her husband to leave his parents' house. Meanwhile, the woman's parents agreed to their spouse and children, but the traditions of their locality, Devaliya, created new obstacles to this family that has already suffered too much.

"I have two other children, both singles. If she gives birth to the baby and decides to keep the child, none of my other children will get married", the mother said. "My 14 years old child will be outcast. The only way to avoid this is if my daughter is subjected to 'Chokha thavani viddhi', the ritual of purification, and any decision of the community would be final," said the mother of the victim to BBC.

The Devipujak group follows a strong caste and religious system and has its own community courts which decide on various matters including infidelity and rape.

The process of 'purification' is that the victim hold a stone of 40 kilos over the head trying to guess how many seeds in hand hides a priest. If the girl gets the answer wrong then the tantric assumes her answers have been lies. That priest, meanwhile, may voluntarily extend this ritual for several months, until the goddess show the innocence of the victim of sexual crime. 

An elder from the village, Odhabhai Devipujak, explained that a purification ritual is conducted by a tantric - a priest who practices black magic and believes in supernatural powers - and predates the existence of courts and police.

The Devipujak community, to which the woman belongs, is very particular about this unusual ritual. If found impure, the woman will be ostracized from the village. But there still is a ray of hope-her husband, who says whatever the result be, he would never leave her side. The fact remains, whatever the era be, it is the women alone who require a 'certificate of purity' with no chances of this humiliation, rather obscure, irrelevant, ritual coming to an end. 

While the victim goes through her trial-by-error, the culprits remain absconding, which does not seem to be a matter of concern for the community members at all.

And there are certain questions which will always remain unanswered.

Why is the test conducted only on women? Why are a bunch of people allowed to decide the fate of someone's life through an unlawful and unfair method? 

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