The country might be tying itself up in knots to determine the punishment for rape, but in the heart of Jharkhand, the Ho tribals have resolved the matter in a simple manner. The penalty for rape is to give a goat to the girl's family, or some cockerels.
The Manki-Munda system - Munda is head of a village and Manki is head of cluster of villages - is used to settle all disputes. Culprits are penalised through fines, not in cash but in kind, and it is primarily livestock they have to part with.
The villagers are protective of the tradition. Seldom does anybody go to knock at the doors of the police.
The goat episode took place in Tantnagar in Majhgaon Vidhan Sabha constituency, around 150km south of Ranchi. The girl was on her way back from a market, when she was sexually assaulted by an inebriated youth.
A similar incident took place in the Chakradharpur, where the Manki-Munda sabha imposed a fine of Rs. 500 and five cockerels.
Deepak Birua, Congress legislator from Chaibasa, played down the incidents.
"Usually minor offences are referred to the Manki-Mundas, serious offences like rape or murder are reported to the police. But you do hear of such cases now and then."
Amit Angedia, elected mukhiya of Boikera panchayat, however, differed.
"This is way most disputes are settled here. But the villagers are tight-lipped about such incidents," he said.