There are places in India where rape is grounds for marriage. Shruti Ravindran in Open magazine:
Zareena Khatun, 19, looks like the sort of lovesick girl that you cast a fond eye over, half-seeing your own early romantic self. She sits outside her house on a straw mat, her knees drawn up to her chin, gazing at the rain with an all-absorbing melancholy. Intrude into her reverie with a question, and she’ll act like she didn’t hear you, chewing absently on a fingernail painted a 90s starlet-maroon. But ask her about the young man in the denim shirt whose framed photo hangs by her bedside, and she’ll say his name softly, blush and look away.
“Newton Patua.” The 22-year-old son of a silk weaver and a student of Bengali in Bolpur College, Newton used to live across the road from Zareena’s home in Jhilli village in Khargram tehsil of West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, and he is now her husband. But their first meeting could not be described as either neighbourly or domestic. “I was sleeping upstairs deep in the night, two years ago,” says Zareena, in a voice with flattened affect, “when he came in through the window of my room, caught hold of my mouth, stuffed it with cloth, and raped me. Then he ran away, and I came down and told my mother what happened.”
“We filed an FIR the next day,” says Zareena’s mother. That’s when the story took an unusual course. After Newton was taken into judicial custody, his parents approached Zareena’s and offered to get the two married. Sitting in on the meeting were two members of Bhalo Manush (literally, Good Men), a select group of worthy locals such as schoolteachers and government servants, who are charged with preserving the honour of Jhilli and the 17 surrounding villages. The Good Men, along with the two sets of parents and the girl’s lawyer, agreed that it would be in everybody’s interest to get the rapist married to his victim. Newton would be spared five to eight years of incarceration, the girl would get married despite no longer being a virgin and her father wouldn’t need to scrape together a dowry, even though the boy was from a better educated family and had well-off relatives, including a schoolmaster brother-in-law, and an uncle who was, Zareena says reverentially, “a doctor in Kolkata”. More: