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Police Arrest Village Council for Ordering ‘Revenge’ Rape

by AFP

A villager points to the house where one of the teenage girls was raped. SS Mirza—AFP

Eighteen men, including the rapists, arrested over assaults on 16- and 12-year-old girls

Police on Thursday arrested four more men involved in the rape of a teenage girl as punishment for a rape committed by her brother.

The latest arrests, which include the man who allegedly committed the ‘revenge rape,’ brings the told number detained to 18, a police source confirmed.

The incident occurred earlier this month in the neighborhood of Raja Ram in Muzaffarabad, a suburb of Multan, according to investigators. “A jirga 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 that was duly carried out.

The allegations were confirmed by Rashid Taheem, the police officer heading the investigation. “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.

Both the girls are now staying in a woman’s shelter and were due to meet Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif later Thursday.

The Supreme Court has also ordered an investigation into the incident.

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 Mukhtaran Mai after her brother was falsely accused of rape.

Mai made the unusual decision to defy her rapists and take them to court. Her attackers walked free but she went on to become a high-profile women’s rights activist. Her story inspired an opera, Thumbprint, which opened in New York in 2014 and premiered in Los Angeles last month.

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