Six Arrested in Tribal Council-Ordered Gang Rape in Pakistan
District police in Pakistan’s Punjab province arrested six suspects yesterday in connection with the tribal court-ordered gang rape of an 18-year-old girl. District police in Pakistan, notified days after the incident, are pledging justice. “Culprits involved in the case will not go unpunished,” said Officer Farman Ali Chaudhry. Commission Chair Afrasiab Khattak of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is calling for the elimination of all tribal councils saying: “The increasing incidents of terrible atrocities against women are a terrible reflection on the state of society and the status of women within it.”
While the gang rape was said to be ordered by a council of tribal leaders as punishment for disgrace caused by her brother’s “illicit affair” with a woman of a higher tribal class; in fact, the victim’s 11-year old brother — a member of the Gujjar tribe — was seen walking unchaperoned with a girl from the higher Mastoi tribe, according the Associated Press. The Mastoi tribal court presented two options for the punishment: All the women in the boy’s family would be raped or his sister could accept her sentence. Hence, four men, including a member of the court, raped the victim before hundreds of Mastoi spectators in the village of Meerwala. Afterwards, the girl was forced to return home naked.
A recent report by UNICEF and the Pakistani nongovernmental organization (NGO) Lawyers for Human Rights disclosed that honor killings of women in Pakistan are on the rise. During the first quarter of this year, 211 Pakistani women — 50 percent more than the same quarter last year — were killed to uphold family honor. “These innocent women were killed in brutal ways: 28 shot dead, 28 axed to death, 20 strangled, 10 stabbed to death and the rest were beaten to death,” the report reads. Amnesty International volunteer Syed Shamsuddin said continued prevalence and indifference to such violence “translates into flagrant rights violations against women.”
Media Resources: Associated Press 7/2/02; UN Wire 6/26/02; Agence France-Presse 7/2/02, 7/3/02