(R Reports) – It’s a headline that caught worldwide attention and prompted the intervention of Amnesty International- two sisters in rural India condemned to be raped as punishment for their brother eloping with a woman of a higher caste.
The accusations emerged last month when a village council supposedly ruled that a 23-year old and her 15-year old sister were to be stripped naked and paraded with their faces blackened, then raped, to atone for their brother’s transgression.
But now, members of the council deny they held the meeting, local police deny that the ruling was given, and the family themselves say it might not have happened.
The father of the girls did file a petition to the Supreme Court seeking protection for his daughters, who have since fled the village. But he said it was based on hearsay, and he did not know for a fact if the council issued such an order.
Whether the council met and whether they issued a ruling is difficult to confirm as councils usually do not keep records of the proceedings.
Reuters interviewed more than 20 people involved in the incident and found many discrepancies from each person they spoke to.
However, no one said they had any evidence that the council had handed down the rape punishment, as alleged in the court petition.
Still the case does appear to fit a familiar narrative combining some of rural India’s most tenacious problems: the adherence to an antiquated Hindu caste system, and increasing violence towards women.