Indian police are considering arresting the men who ordered that two sisters be raped to atone for their brother having a relationship with a married woman from a higher caste. The punishment was ordered by the council of a farming village of Sankrot, which is home to around 200 people in Uttar Pradesh and around 30 miles from New Delhi.
India's Supreme Court ruled that the village councils, known as 'panchayats' are illegal. The court described them as "kangaroo courts" but they continue to function in remote parts of the country.
On 30 July, the unelected all-male village council ordered that the two women be raped, have their faces blackened and paraded naked as punishment for the actions of their brother, according to Amnesty International. Meenakshi Kumari, 23, and her 15-year-old sister fled their home after it was ransacked.
The charity condemned the "disgusting" ruling as celebrities supported the petition, which has so far garnered 125,000 signatures. Rachel Alcock, Amnesty UK's Urgent Action Coordinator, said: "Rape is a revolting crime, not a punishment. It's no wonder this disgusting 'sentence' has provoked global outrage."
"These Khap courts routinely order vile sexually violent punishments against women. India's Supreme Court has rightly declared such orders illegal. The government of Uttar Pradesh has an urgent duty to keep this family safe," said Alcock. "There must also be a proper, independent investigation into these barbaric and illegal orders which apparently continue to be issued by the khap panchayat courts."
Queen guitarist Brian May added his condemnation, tweeting: "Unbelievable. How do we combat the mountain of evil in our world? Step by step, stone by stone, day by day."
Author and atheist Richard Dawkins also joined in the protest. He wrote on the social media site: "Indian sisters to be raped as 'punishment' for brother eloping. This time it really truly IS nothing to do with Islam." He added: "They're female: property of their brother. Raping them's punishment for his stealing another man's female property."