In India, a father serves daughter's rapist dinner and 'justice'

An Indian man confessed to murdering his daughter's alleged rapist, a vigilante response that reflects a continuing distrust of the nation's judicial system when it comes to rape cases. 

Altaf Qadri/AP/File
Members of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) shout slogans during a protest against the gang rape of two teenage girls, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, May 31, 2014.

An Indian man confessed to killing his 14-year-old daughter's alleged rapist, saying he took matters into his own hands fearing justice would not be served.

Enraged after learning his daughter was pregnant, the father invited the 45-year-old rape suspect to his house where he fed him dinner before torturing and killing the man, police said, according to Indian Express. The man immediately reported himself to police, providing a detailed account of the incident.

The 36-year-old father told police he did not initially report the rape for fear his daughter would be blamed. The troubling case points to a lingering public distrust of India's judicial system even after two years of massive street protests – and reforms – aimed at reducing rape. 

In his statement, the father told police that two months ago, while he was away from his shop, the medicine supplier had come calling at his house and on finding the girl alone at home, the father said that the man raped his daughter. The medicine supplier threatened her, but she told her father that day, according to police, who say he immediately started planning the murder.

But the man previously told police he did not mean to kill the alleged rapist, according to Indian Express, and after realizing the victim died he wept next to his body before surrendering.

Also, during questioning the father said he had asked the supplier why he raped his daughter and the man responded with "offensive language," not showing remorse.  

Online commenters on the Indian Express website overwhelmingly sympathized with the father, some calling him a hero, and many other suggesting his method the only way to end rapes in the country.

"What he did mayn't be easy to judge, but castrating the rapist is good given apathy of Indian Judicial system," one commenter wrote.

Another called it a "difficult  decision," asking: "Should one rejoice at the elimination of such an animal or uphold the so called rule of law? Given the way the justice system functions esp in India, I'll go with ridding such animals swiftly and mercilessly. Can we help the father in his legal defense?"

The incident comes after years of public debate and protest over the Indian government's handling of rapes in the country.

The death of a young Indian woman who was beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in December 2012 sent thousands to the streets in protest. Politicians vowed rape victims would no longer be shamed and the judicial system promised rapists would no longer be able to blame their victims.

Despite increased sentences for rape convictions, the 2013 rape of a 5-year-old girl led protesters to call for harsher penalties and some analysts to argue for critical police reform.

Tougher laws against rape, increased media focus on sexual violence, and new police units dedicated to helping women, suggested progress. But the brutal gang rape and hanging of two cousins in May "revealed the immense gulf that remains in India," and fueled the public outcry further.

"I don't expect justice from the state government as state police officers shielded the suspects," said Sohan Lal, one of the girls' father and a poor farm laborer who refused to accept a payment offered by the state government as financial help, saying he would accept no financial assistance until the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI, takes over the case, according to the Associated Press.

In 1971, just 2,500 rapes were reported in India. In 2011, that number had jumped to more than 24,000.

But in the world's second-most populous nation, scholars and activists say even the higher number is absurdly small. The stigma of rape runs deep, with many women accused of rape still forced to answer questions about their sexual history, the provocativeness of their clothing, and whether they may have invited the attack.

Rape victims can face years of whispers behind their backs. They and their siblings can have trouble finding spouses. Question marks can taint their families for a generation.

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