Council orders rape of girl as punishment for brother's crime

Members of a village council in Pakistan have been arrested after they ordered that a 16-year-old girl should be raped because her brother raped someone.

A Pakistani Jirga Court sitting

The council known as Jirga made the strange pronouncement in the neighbourhood of Raja Ram in Muzaffarabad, a suburb of the central city of Multan, where it sat and pronounced that the girl should be raped in public after her brother had raped their 12-year-old cousin.

The incident which occurred earlier this month, according to investigators, sparked violent protest in the area which led to the police weighing in and arresting the Jirga members.

A local police officer, Allah Baksh, who confirmed the incident, said:

“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.”

Baksh said on investigation by the police, it was discovered that 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, an order which was duly carried out.

The allegations were also 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.

We have arrested 14 people of the village council so far,” Taheem said, adding that the main accused who had raped the 12-year-old, was still at large.

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.

However, such councils are illegal and have been under fire for their controversial decisions, especially regarding women.

In 2002, a Jirga had come under serious fire after it was involved in one of South Asia’s most infamous cases of sexual violence against women when it ordered the gang rape of a woman called Mukhtar Mai after her brother was falsely accused of rape.

Mai made the unusual decision to defy her rapists and take them to court and though her attackers were set free, she went on to become a high-profile women’s rights activist with her story inspiring an opera, 'Thumbprint', which opened in New York in 2014.

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