Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Pakistan: Police Response to Crimes Against Women Lacking

The suicide of a young woman raped at gunpoint follows a series of recent incidents in which horrific crimes against women in Pakistan’s Punjab province have been brought to the world’s attention. Since the case of Mukhtaran Bibi, who was gang-raped as punishment for her brother’s “crime,” made headlines last month – the number of women reporting rapes has skyrocketed, according to the New York Times. While six men were arrested for the crime against Bibi, women’s rights advocates are concerned that other reports are not being taken seriously. “Women are encouraged to report the crime of rape now,” Asma Jehangir, the most prominent female lawyer and women’s rights advocate in Pakistan told the Times. “We are, of course, receiving information that they are getting very disappointed.”

Naseem Mai told the police she would kill herself if the man who raped her was not arrested, according to the New York Times. Two days later she watched as the police allowed her rapist to flee. She died moments later after drinking a bottle of pesticide. Although the man was arrested a week later, Naseem’s family does not have much faith in justice – her rapist is from a wealthy family who can easily bribe the police.

Meanwhile, a deal last week between two Pakistani families settling a “blood debt” was canceled after details of eight forced marriages prompted a national outcry. To spare the lives of four men from one family who were convicted and sentenced to die for the murder of two men from another family, eight girls — ages 5 to 18 years old — were offered, along with $130,000, for marriage to the victims’ family. The intended husbands, most of whom already had wives, were considerably older - one was 80 years old. Fervent protests by human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Aurat Foundation, Women Action Forum, Rozan and Amal, led to intervention by village elders and the Pakistani government. The four convicted men may again face execution, unless an alternative settlement is reached.

While the number of forced marriages each year in Pakistan is unknown, experts suggest they are common practice, according to “Women continue to be seen as possessions of men, as something that can be given away, like cattle or gold,” said HRCP Joint Director Kamila Hyat. In a statement released last week, the human rights groups expressed the need for change: “We call upon all Pakistanis to raise their voice against this incident, which is not just a matter of the breakdown of law and order, but also of the persistence of the ugly feudal traditions in our society and the absence of the basic norms of human decency and conscience.”

Media Resources: 7/25/02; 7/26/02; UN wire 7/26/02; New York Times 7/28/02

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case. UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall. The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies. Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .