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Indian girl tonsured for 'speaking to friend'

Minor girl tonsured and paraded with blackened face by village elders in Bihar after being found talking to boyfriend.

Last updated: 14 Mar 2014 07:59
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The police have arrested six people so far for Tuesday's assault on the girl [Nand Kishor Singh]

A girl in the eastern Indian state of Bihar was tonsured and paraded after her face was blackened by village elders as punishment for talking to her boyfriend.

The police have arrested six people after the incident on Tuesday in Kadwa Tola village of Purnea district, about 300km from the provincial capital, Patna.

The 14-year-old girl, an orphan, lives in the village with her grandparents. Her grandfather is a cycle-rickshaw puller.

According to the girl's complaint to the police, the village court ordered the punishment after she was caught talking to her boyfriend.

The girl belongs to the Dalit ("oppressed") community, whose members often face discrimination in India's caste-ridden society.

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"They tied us and kept us in a room for whole night and next day the village court slapped the judgement," the girl told Al Jazeera.

The villagers imposed fines of Rs12,000 ($195) on both the boy and the girl for their "act of indiscretion".

"But they let the boy go when his family promised to pay the amount and since we are poor, my family was unable to pay the fine and they meted extreme humiliation to me," she said.

"They first shaved my head and then blackened my face with ash and paraded me in the village," she said.

A local police official said that some villagers had caught the girl talking to the boy at the Gulab Bagh market yard while returning from her school.

"Altogether six out of total seven named accused persons in the case have been arrested and sent to jail," Shweta Gupta, the officer-in-charge of Purnea Women police station, told Al Jazeera.

The village headman, who presides over the court, was among those arrested.

'Unrepentant'

Police officials said some of the villagers were still unrepentant, saying the punishment was for maintaining "social discipline and moral propriety".

Several Indian provinces are notorious for village councils (locally called Khap Panchayats) that have no legal sanction, but yet adjudicate over personal matters.

Scores of boys and girls have died in suspected honour killings ordered by such councils for daring to fall in love and defying caste and cultural restrictions.

In West Bengal state, a woman was allegedly gang-raped recently as punishment for being found with her lover.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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