File picture: Supplied
File picture: Supplied

Council members arrested for ordering 'revenge rape'

By Asif Shahzad Time of article published Jul 27, 2017

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Islamabad - Pakistani police have

arrested 25 members of an informal village council accused of

ordering the rape of a 16-year-old girl as revenge for her

brother's alleged sexual assault of another girl.

The Supreme Court also requested a report on the case, which

echoed a notorious case from 2002 in which another teenager was

gang-raped on a local council's order.

"A total of 29 people were involved in this ghastly crime,

and we have 25 of them in our custody," Multan City Police

Officer Ahsan Younus told Reuters by telephone on Thursday.

Earlier this month, a local council in the southern city of

Multan was called after a family accused a 16-year-old boy of

raping a 13-year-old neighbour.

The council ruled that the sister of the boy should be

handed over to the victim's brother to be raped. The punishment

was carried out on July 17 after her family handed the girl

over.

The case came to light when both families filed criminal

charges with police accusing the other family's son of rape.

Questioning both sides in the cases, however, soon revealed

the role of the informal village council, Younus said.

"All the village council elders who ordered the revenge rape

have been arrested," he said.

Both the victims and their mothers have been sent to a

women's protection centre, he added.

Pakistan has a centuries-old tradition of quick justice

handed down by gatherings of local elders, known as jirgas or

panchayats, seen by many villagers as preferable to the

often-cumbersome and corrupt formal legal system.

In most of the country, jirgas are tolerated but not

recognised by the formal courts and police.

The jirgas and the practice of "revenge rape" drew

international attention in 2002 when a woman named Mukhtaran Mai

was ordered gang-raped by a local council for a male relative's

alleged crime.

Mai took the rare step of filing criminal charges against

her attackers, and six men were convicted and sentenced to death

later that year, though five of them were later freed on appeal.

Mai went on to become a high-profile campaigner for women's

rights in Pakistan.

"Another Tribe Court (panchayat) in south Punjab Multan and

another girl was raped. We are still in 2002," Mai said on her

official Twitter account this week.

Speaking to Reuters by telephone, Mai denounced the revenge

rape.

"If there were any justice in the panchayat, they should

have shot the rapist. Why punish an innocent girl instead?"

Reuters

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