Thane (Maharashtra), May 16 (IANS) Four persons have been booked for allegedly imposing a social boycott on a family belonging to the Kanjarbhat community, here, for opposing the practice of virginity tests on women, a police official said on Thursday.
According to an Ambernath Police Station official, the accused have been booked under the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Act, 2016, and investigations have been initiated. No arrests had been made, he added.
Complainant Vivek Tamaichikar, 29, said the community panchayat had ostracised his family for the past one year for opposing the custom that required a newly wed girl to prove her virginity after wedding night.
Matters came to a head when his grandmother expired three days ago and no community member attended her funeral due to the alleged directive from the panchayat to sever all links with the Tamaichikar family, he said.
The police official said the administration had always frowned upon such regressive practices and took cognisance of any complaints in such cases and hence the four persons had been booked.
Barely four months ago, the state government had said it planned to issue a circular declaring virginity tests as a form of ‘sexual assault’, attracting suitable punishment under the law.
The custom, followed in the Kanjarbhat community, came to the fore a couple of years ago when two girls openly revolted against it.
According to the custom, a girl proven not virgin gets beaten up, humiliated and tortured by the family and the community.
Shocked by the bizarre tradition, many educated youths from the community have launched online campaigns, including Tamaichikar’s “#stoptheV-ritual” on social media, and are organising awareness drives.
Several women politicians from Maharashtra, including Shiv Sena legislator Neelam Gorhe, have taken a strong stand against the V-tests and demanded a ban on it.