Pakistan police arrests village elders for ordering rape
Multan, Pakistan - Fourteen members of a Pakistani village council have been arrested for ordering the rape of a teenage girl as punishment for a rape committed by her brother, police said on Wednesday.
The incident occurred earlier this month in the neighbourhood of Raja Ram in Muzaffarabad, a suburb of the central city of Multan, investigators told AFP.
“A jirga (village council) had ordered the rape of a 16 year old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12 year old,” said Allah Baksh, a local police official. He said the village council was approached by a man who complained that his 12 year old sister had been raped by their cousin. The council then ordered the complainant to rape the sister of the accused in return, Baksh said - an order which was duly carried out.
The allegations were confirmed by Rashid Taheem, the police officer heading the inves- tigation. “Both the parties had filed cases of rape against each other at the local police station after the incident that happened last week,” he said.
“We have arrested 14 people of the village council so far,” he said, adding that the ‘main accused’ - the man who raped the 12 year old - was still at large.
Jirgas, or village councils formed of local elders, are a traditional means of settling disputes in Pakistan’s rural areas, where courts and lawyers are not always accessible or trusted.
But such councils are illegal and have been under fire for their controversial decisions, especially regarding women.
A jirga was involved in one of South Asia’s most infamous cases of sexual violence against women when, in 2002, it ordered the gang rape of a woman called Mukhtar Mai after her brother was falsely accused of rape.