Woman fails 'virginity test,' faces divorce order from 'jaat panchayat'
Two sisters were subjected to divorce orders by a local panchayat after one of them failed to clear a "virginity test" post their marriage late last year in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, reports said on Saturday. A police case has since been filed and the cops have booked the members of the so-called panchayat as well as the women's in-laws. Here are more details on this.
Citing the police complaint, The Indian Express reported that the two sisters had received a proposal for marriage with two men, a pair of brothers, all of them belonging to the Kanjarbhat community. The police said that one of them was known to be serving in the Army. The wedding took place in Kolhapur on November 27, 2020.
After the wedding, both the brides were taken to separate bedrooms to conduct a "virginity test" - a controversial tradition followed by several communities in rural India. The complaint stated that both the grooms were given a white sheet to use during sexual intercourse. A sheet with bloodstains would prove that the bride is a virgin, as per the custom.
One of the sisters said that she was accused of having physical relationships with other men in the past while the other "passed" that test. On November 29, the complainant's husband and in-laws demanded Rs. 10 lakh from her and even threatened to cut all ties with them. The sisters were also physically assaulted by their husbands and in-laws, they alleged in the complaint.
Later, the mother of the sisters approached the members of the "jaat panchayat" (or caste panchayat) for help, who allegedly took Rs. 40,000 from her to solve the matter. In February, a panchayat was organized at a temple, where the members consented to end both the marriages. The complainant also alleged that she was boycotted by her community.
Thereafter, the mother sought help from the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, which assisted her and her daughters in filing a police complaint. A First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged, under which the two husbands, the mother-in-law, and others have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.