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Pakistani council approves honour rapes

Thursday 6 May 2004

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A village council in Pakistan has permitted a landlord to rape the sister and sister-in-law of a man he accused of an illicit relationship with his daughter, police say.

The incident happened on April 30 in the small village of Donga Naich in the central province of Punjab, after a ruling by a three-men local jury, or panchayat.

"We have registered a case against all the men involved in this heinous act," a police officer in the nearby town of Kabirwala told Reuters.

Sikander Javed, a lawyer for the women, said the influential landlord, Ghaffar, had complained to the council that his honour had been sullied when the son of a poor farmer began a relationship with his daughter.

The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer’s daughter, who is 16, and daughter-in-law, who is 22.

The council then went to the house of the farmer, Muhammad Nawaz, and said he should send his daughter and daughter-in-law to Ghaffar’s house to seek forgiveness but did not mention their ruling, Javed said.

Later the girls were locked in a room and raped by Ghaffar while two of his male relatives stood guard and the three-member council waited outside, he said.

The girls were rescued after other villagers intervened.

Provincial police chief Saadtullah Khan told Reuters he had ordered the arrest of all six men involved and instructed local police to do their best to ensure a prosecution.

Ghaffar and members of the council could not be reached for comment. Police said Ghaffar had yet to be arrested, but one of his brothers was in custody and he had said that the women were only stripped, not raped.

Javed said such incidents were not uncommon in rural Pakistan.

In a notorious case two years ago that highlighted the plight of women in rural areas, four men were sentenced to death for the gang rape of a woman authorised by another central Punjab village council and two council members accused of abetting the crime also received the death sentence.

Their appeals are still before the courts. Eight other council members were tried and acquitted.

P.S.

Reuters, Thursday, 6 May, 2004.

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