Sexual assault
Assault [Illustrative image] Image Credit: Creative Commons

Recently, a married woman in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh was assaulted by villagers for eloping with another man from her locality to supposedly escape an abusive marriage.

According to Indian news media reports published on October 9, tired of the treatment she received at home, the woman eloped with a married man from the same village and fled to the town of Tinsukia in the state of Assam in September.

“No it wasn’t a love affair, but [the man] was aware of my state. He knew that my husband assaulted me every day brutally for five years. I had a miscarriage when he kicked me in my abdomen one night. After that there was one more miscarriage. I had to be admitted once in a hospital, when the brutality was extreme. My mother-in-law sided her son to hit me and this was regular. Several meetings between my family and my in-laws were not fruitful, and my fate did not change,” the woman was quoted as saying.

“I had refused his proposal of marriage as he said things shall change for me if I married him,” she added.

The assault occurred when the duo decided to return to their village.

The family of the man she had eloped with contacted the couple and asked them to return to the village. “They assured that they would accept and embrace us back in the family. Initially, we refused but later we thought of returning to be with our own family. It was at midnight on September 25 that we reached our village in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh,” the 20-year-old victim was quoted as saying.

However, on the night that the duo arrived at the village, villagers gathered to catch them.

An informal village court decided that the couple were guilty.

According to Lekang's Women Welfare Association of Narcotics Cell, after this, a group of elderly women pulled the woman out of the vehicle and tore her clothes.

Local media reported that the woman was then bathed in cold water. The elderly women chopped off her hair as punishment. They took turns to tear off the remaining of her clothes, stripping her naked.

A group of people recorded the incident. The man was also beaten up when he tried to stop the villagers, local media reported.

“I was made to sleep in a school room without any clothes. They did not give me food till next morning. I had bruises all over my body,” the woman was quoted as saying.

None of the woman’s family were called to the scene but the woman eventually managed to call her grandfather, who saved her, local media reported.

“The villagers decided to forbid the woman from marrying ever in her life, while the man she had eloped with, was asked to snap all ties with her. It was unanimously decided in the meeting that the woman should be asked to leave the village. The decision was then conveyed to her grandfather. When the old man demanded for justice for his granddaughter, the villagers decided to hand him Rs40,000 (Dh2,013),” Ruby Deuri, secretary of the Women’s Welfare Association of Narcotics Cell said.

According to the organisation, police have so far arrested 15 out 38 people they say were involved in the act.