Ar­rests in coun­cil’s re­venge rape case

Waikato Times Weekend - - WORLD -

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

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