Pakistan Village Council Orders 'Revenge Rape' Of Teenage Girl

Some 20 people have been arrested in the city of Multan

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Around 20 people have been arrested for ordering the rape of a 16-year-old girl in revenge for her brother allegedly raping a 12-year-old in Multan, Pakistan.

According to police, the families of the two victims were related, and came together to consult over the punishment.

'A jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old,' Allah Baksh, a police official said to AFP.

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The police official also stated that the village council had been approached by a man who claimed his 12-year-old sister had been raped by their cousin.

The council then ordered the complainant to rape the sister as punishment, which police confirmed he did, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

The newspaper reports that the girl was dragged to where the village council members had convened, and raped in front of the men and her parents.

The mothers of both victims then reported the attack to the police, who started an investigation and have since arrested 20 of the council members. A search is underway to find the remaining five men.

Meanwhile, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and human rights activist Asma Jahangir has said that village councils [panchayats] have no legal standing, and face prosecution if they breach the law.

'Panchayats have no standing and the courts have stated the same. If they act outside of law, then the panchayat and its members should be prosecuted according to law,' Jahangir said (via GEO News).

Panchayats are usually formed by local village elders who preside over disputes in rural areas of Pakistan. They have been known to order so-called 'honour killings' and rape.

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai Meerawala was gang-raped on the orders of a local jirga in a village in southern Punjab as punishment for her 12-year-old brother's alleged affair with an older woman.

Mai was brutally gang-raped by six men and made to parade the streets naked.

Victims of sexual assault still face stigma and ostracism from family and fellow villagers, and are often dissuaded from pressing charges. But Mai courageously took her rapists to court, although devastatingly their convictions were later overturned by Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Mai was offered many ways out of Punjab, but she chose to stay and start a school for women and a women's refuge. She is now an advocate for women's rights.

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