Girl Gang-Raped by Order of Pakistani Tribal Jury; Human Rights Organizations Demand Justice
By The Associated Press, July 2, 2002

MULTAN, Pakistan July 2 A Pakistani tribal council ordered an 18-year-old girl to be gang-raped in order to punish her family after her brother was seen walking with a girl from a higher class tribe, police said Tuesday.

The private Human Rights Commission of Pakistan demanded that all those involved in the rape, which took place June 22 in the village of Meerwala in southern Punjab province, be punished.

Police said the victim's father had filed criminal charges against the four men involved in the case. Police said they picked up eight relatives of the suspects to pressure the perpetrators into surrendering.

"We will spare no efforts to do justice" for the victim, police official Malik Saeed said.

According to the victim, the Mastoi tribe demanded punishment after her 11-year-old brother was seen walking unchaperoned with a Mastoi girl in a deserted part of the village. The boy and his sister are from the lower class Gujar tribe.

The Mastoi tribe called a meeting of the tribal council, which ordered the girl to be raped to avenge their tribal honor. The teen-ager said she was taken to a hut and assaulted as hundreds of Mastois stood outside laughing and cheering.

Pakistan has a tradition of tribal justice in which crimes or affronts to dignity are punished outside the framework of Pakistani law. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has demanded an end to punishments by tribal councils.

Kamla Hayyat, of the commission, said the group will send a fact-finding mission to the victim's village to determine what happened and provide help to her.

"The increasing incidents of terrible atrocities against women are a terrible reflection on the state of society and the status of women within it," commission chairman Afrasiab Khattak said in a statement.

Last month, an Islamic court overturned the conviction of a woman who was to be stoned to death for adultery. Zufran Bibi, 28, said she was raped and appealed her early May conviction in the conservative North West Frontier Province.

Her case prompted demonstrations and protests by hundreds of civil and women's-rights groups nationwide.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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