An Indian man accused of attempted rape has been given bail on the condition to wash and iron the clothes of all women in his village for six months free of cost.
Avinash Kumar, Additional district judge, Jhanjharpur in Madhubani district of Bihar state, granted the bail to the accused Lalan Kumar, 20, on Tuesday with the condition.
The accused will have to buy detergent and other items needed to provide six months of free laundry services to about 2,000 women in the village of Majhor in the state, under the ruling made Wednesday.
The copies of the order have also been dispatched to the local village council chief and Sarpanch, a village council official with limited judicial power, to get information about the accused conduct and also to know whether the accused is following the court’s directive.
The court order has become a talk of the town, according to global media reports.
“The court order contains a big social message. From now on, no accused will dare to commit such a crime,” Parshuram Mishra, lawyer of the accused, said.
Mishra said his client was a washerman by profession and wanted to atone for his sin through his ancestral profession.
“It was after hearing his appeal that the court granted such an order,” the lawyer said.
Kumar, who washes clothes for a living, was arrested in April on charges including attempted rape, Santosh Kumar Singh, a police officer in Bihar’s Madhubani district.
No date has been set for his trial.
“All the women in the village are happy with the court decision,” Nasima Khatoon, the head of the village council, said.
“It is historic. It will boost respect for women and help to protect the dignity,” added Khatoon, one of the village dignitaries who will monitor Kumar.
Women in the village said the order had made a positive impact by making crime against women a subject of discussion in their community.
“This is a remarkable step and a different kind of punishment that sends a message to society,” said Anjum Perween.
According to officials, the total population of the village the accused belongs to is around 2,000 and thus the accused is required to wash their clothes at regular intervals in light of the court’s order.
The local village Council Chief Nasima Khatoon termed the court’s decision as historic saying, “this will protect the honour and dignity of women and people will think a hundred times before committing such crimes.”
India’s rape laws were overhauled after a 2012 gang rape in New Delhi but the number of offences remains high, with more than 28,000 rapes reported in 2020.