Arrests in council’s revenge rape case
PAKISTAN: Mohammad Ashfaq, a villager in Pakistan’s Punjab province, came to the village council with a harrowing complaint: His 12-year-old sister had been raped by a 15-year-old boy, a distant cousin.
The council, or jirga, prescribed an equally harrowing punishment: Ashfaq, 20, should publicly rape the boy’s sister, who is 16. Ashfaq carried out the punishment in a case of ‘‘revenge rape’’ that has shocked Pakistan and reached all the way to the country’s Supreme Court.
Police have arrested 28 people in a village outside the city of Multan, in southern Punjab, including the head of the council, which included family members of both alleged rapists. The 15-yearold, Umar Wada, was also arrested, but police were still searching for Ashfaq, said Shahida Nasreen, a senior police official in Multan and head of the Violence Against Women Centre.
‘‘Honour crimes’’ are common in Pakistan, where villagers often use violence to punish those seen to have sullied a family’s reputation. The government has vowed to end the practice of honour killings of women who marry without the approval of their male relatives.
The case in Punjab came to light last week when Wada’s family reported it to police, but it was nearly a week before arrests were made.
Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab’s chief minister, suspended Multan’s police chief and the head of the local police station for what he termed ‘‘extreme negligence.’’
The chief justice of the Supreme Court said it would take up the case.
The case bore disturbing similarities to a 2002 incident in which a woman, Mukhtar Mai, was gang-raped by a local jirga in the same area for a crime allegedly committed by her male relatives. The perpetrators were convicted and sentenced to death, but all but one were later freed by higher courts. - Los Angeles Times