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After arranged marriage, Indianapolis woman was raped repeatedly while kept at Southside apartment

The woman from India came to Indiana to visit family. Shortly after arriving, she discovered her mother had arranged a marriage for her, a not-uncommon practice in their culture.

But this marriage would turn into a violent and degrading four-month ordeal. She was raped by her husband and forced to do nearly round-the-clock household labor, police say. She was routinely referred to as “bitch” by her husband, uncle and aunt. She was slapped and choked. Her life was threatened. She barely ate and had to sleep on the floor without covers. But this week, the woman will get some measure of relief when her husband, Lakhvir Singh, 28, is sentenced in Marion Superior Court. “I want the maximum punishment and justice to be served,” the woman said in a statement to The Indianapolis Star. The Star does not generally identify victims of sexual abuse or assault. “I don’t want this to happen to any other girl. My voice can finally be heard.” A week ago, a jury found Singh guilty of criminal deviate conduct, domestic battery, rape, sexual battery and strangulation.

Singh was found not guilty of another charge: promotion of human trafficking. He also was acquitted on separate counts of rape, deviate sexual conduct and sexual battery. His sentencing is scheduled for Friday, and he faces six to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges. Singh’s lawyer, Jack Crawford, says the woman made up the allegations to get out of a marriage she didn’t like and to secure a visa for victims of human trafficking. “She was in a marriage where she did some things she didn’t want to do and tried to get out of it,” Crawford said. “The blame here lies with the parents for forcing them both into a marriage they did not want.” But the victim’s brother says she has the emotional and physical scars to prove the allegations. “She is finally getting her confidence back, but it will take a long time,” said her brother, who called police when he found out about the abuse. The Star is not naming the brother to help further protect her identity.

“She had to repeat the experience at the trial, so it will be some time before she is normal.”

Visiting from India

The brother was a graduate student at Purdue University when the woman came with their mother from India to visit him in May 2010. But shortly after arriving, her mother told her she had arranged a marriage with Singh, who then lived in New Castle, said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Detective Jon Daggy. “That is something in the culture you don’t go against the mother’s wishes about,” Daggy said. The couple later moved to an apartment on Indianapolis’ Southside. No certificate of marriage was ever filed with the state of Indiana, according to a probable cause document filed with Marion Superior Court. A religious ceremony, however, occurred at a Sikh temple in Indianapolis. Cheryl Thomas, director of the women’s rights program at Advocates for Human Rights, a national nonprofit based in Minneapolis, said arranged marriages can be dangerous. “This is a problem in many countries where women are forced into marriages that they don’t want to be in,” she said. “They’re vulnerable, particularly if they don’t have any education or access to employment that can give them some independence.”

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