Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Police in southern Pakistan have arrested six men in connection with the kidnap and rape of a 16-year-old girl

Riaz Sohail:

Eleven men are accused of carrying out the attack near the town of Ubaro, about 530km (330 miles) from Karachi.

The girl's family say the rape was in revenge for her cousin eloping with a female relative of the accused.

Doctors confirmed the teenager was raped after she underwent tests in hospital. Such attacks are not uncommon in rural Pakistan in tribal vendettas.

The rape took place on the morning of 27 January in the village of Habib Labano near Ubaro.

The victim's father filed a complaint the same day in Ubaro police station, saying a group of 11 men had kidnapped his daughter, raped her and forced her to walk home naked.

The teenager suffered serious injuries in the attack and was left without any clothes.

Although police initially expressed scepticism over the attack, rape was confirmed in a medical examination carried out on Tuesday, following which the girl left hospital in Sukkur.

On Wednesday, hundreds of political activists and locals blocked the national highway that links Karachi's port to the north of the country for more than two hours in protest at the incident.

They accused police of not taking action against all the accused because they have the support of local influential people.

Women are often used as a means of settling tribal vendettas and honour that is perceived to have been slighted in rural Pakistan.

In 2002, a village council in Punjab province ordered the rape of a woman by men from another clan because of her brother's alleged affair with a woman from their family.

The case ignited international interest after the woman, Mukhtar Mai, chose to fight her case publicly.

Her fight helped rights groups and legislators galvanise support for changes in the country's laws which were recently amended.

Until then, rape victims risked prosecution under Pakistan's Islamic laws if they filed a complaint.

Pakistani teenager "raped", paraded over "honour"

Rape in Pakistan

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Pakistan: Muslim scholars say new rape law will turn country into "free sex zone"


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