A six-year-old Indian girl who was locked in a room and raped is being forced to marry the eight-year-old son of her alleged attacker.
The victim, who lives in the village of Keshavpura, in Rajasthan, was attacked by the 40-year-old around two weeks ago, it is claimed.
Instead of going to police, her family complained to council elders who held a meeting to decide what should happen to the alleged rapist.
Astonishingly, they then told the girl’s parents that their daughter must marry her attacker’s eight-year-old son.
Meanwhile, the girl is believed to have been raped by the same man again on Wednesday, according to NDTV.
The victim’s family has refused to accept the elders’ decision.
The case is the latest in a string of horrific sexual assaults on women and young girls in India, including a fatal attack on a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi late last year and the rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai last month.
In the latest case in Keshavpura, which is about 150 miles from the city of Jaipur, police only became involved after social activists brought the victim and her parents to Mahaveer Nagar police station in Kota to file a complaint.
The man was arrested and an investigation has been launched into the allegations against the council elder.
A police spokesman said: ‘He locked her in a room and raped her. Instead of registering a police complaint, elders belonging to the girl’s caste called a panchayat (village council) meeting.’
Rajasthan is one of the most conservative states in India and, despite efforts by campaigners, child marriage is still relatively common.
The attack comes amid nationwide protests to force Indian authorities to introduce tougher laws for crimes against women and girls.
Last December, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and murdered while travelling on a bus in Delhi.
The case has sparked outrage and revulsion among the public after one of her teenage attackers has been sentenced to only three years’ punishment for the crime.
Last week, the victim’s father spoke out against the verdict, saying: ‘It’s a crime to be born a girl in this country.’
A 22-year-old photojournalist was also the victim of a gang-rape by five men on the compound of Shakti Mills in Mumbai last month.
The young woman, who was accompanied by a male colleague who was beaten by the attackers, was allegedly raped during an assignment on August 22.