Police are searching for two accomplices who are alleged to have participated in the rape and murder.
A 19-year-old woman was raped and hanged from a tree in Pakistan, police said, in a case bearing a chilling resemblance to a spate of similar attacks that sparked outrage in neighboring India.
The woman’s boyfriend of six months, named by police as Muhammad Saqib, confessed to the rape and murder and has been taken into custody, police said.
Saqib admitted he tried to force the woman—the daughter of blind parents—to have sex with two of his friends, according to police. When she refused, investigators said the pair argued. The woman, whom he allegedly had promised to marry, was found hanging from a tree the next morning.
Police are still looking for the two alleged accomplices.
“The incident occurred in Layyah district [in Punjab province] on Thursday night and was reported to the police on Friday when the local people saw a woman hanging from a tree,” said senior police official Ghazi Salahudin. He said the woman was raped and strangled to death, and then her body was hanged to make it look like a suicide. “But the branch was so low and the dead body was touching the ground in sitting position,” he said.
Earlier, during investigations, police had said the woman appeared to have committed suicide. However, Saqib’s confession has made it clear that she was raped and then murdered.
The woman was the eldest of eight siblings and made a living by farming a small piece of land.
The incident has disturbing similarities to an attack in India last month, in which two teenage girls were found gang-raped and hanged from a mango tree in northern Uttar Pradesh state. That attack sparked protests over police apathy, and was the latest to highlight India’s dismal record on preventing sexual violence. Similar headline-making cases have piled pressure on the authorities there.
Police in Layyah said Saqib had met the woman after he visited her house in his role as an assistant at a vegetable wholesale shop. They allegedly had been in a relationship for about six months. A day before the murder, police said, Saqib had brought the woman for a date in the shop where he worked. He took her to the roof, where two of his friends were waiting. When Saqib tried to persuade the woman to have sex with all three of them, she resisted, according to police.
She was then allegedly raped and killed. Police said Saqib had confessed to the attack, adding that they were still investigating if the woman had been raped by the other men as well.