The 55-year-old pastor arrested for aggravated rape was given punishment consistent with ‘traditions and customs’ in some indigenous communities

 In situations of sexual violence ‘a lot of cases are settled this way: with a bottle of liquor’, said Graciela Zabaleta, director of the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Centre in the city of Tuxtepec.

Human rights activists in Mexico have reacted with fury after a man accused of sexually abusing an eight-year old girl was ordered to buy the victim’s father two crates of beer as compensation.

The perpetrator, identified as a 55-year-old former pastor, was given the sanction after the victim’s parents complained to the municipal government in Santiago Quetzalapa, a remote indigenous community without road access or cellular phone coverage some 450km south-east of Mexico City.

He was only arrested after local media coverage of the fine prompted widespread outrage in the state. In a statement to the Guardian, the Oaxaca state attorney general’s office said that police arrested a man on Friday morning on charges of aggravated rape.

The case has highlighted both Mexico’s poor record at investigating sexual crimes, and a unique form of government in Oaxaca state, where many indigenous communities are ruled by an idiosyncratic system popularly known as usos y costumbres (“traditions and customs”).

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