New Pakistan rape suspects held

July 8, 2005

Police in Pakistan say that they have arrested five men for a suspected revenge gang-rape of a married woman.

The men allegedly kidnapped and raped the woman because of an affair one of her relatives was said to have had with a sister of one of the suspects.

Pakistan media are drawing parallels with the high-profile case of Mukhtar Mai, who was raped in 2002 allegedly on the orders of a village council.

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Ms Mai has won international praise for her fight for justice.

The latest incident is said to have taken place on the night of 30 May in the town of Chaniot, 250km (150 miles) north-west of Multan, the main city in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

Pakistan Rape Statistics
320 reported rapes in first nine months of 2004
350 reported gang rapes in same period
Many more cases go unreported
39 people arrested
Police cases registered in only a third of reported rapes
Source: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

A case was opened in early June, but the details only recently became public.

Police say they cannot file charges until all the suspects are in custody.

Five men are under arrest and a sixth is on bail. Two other men are yet to be arrested and their whereabouts are unknown.

A photograph of the 25-year-old woman appeared on the front page of The News newspaper on Wednesday morning.

She told police she had been gang-raped over a period of two days.

Political overtones

Both her case and that of Mukhtar Mai involve allegations of revenge for affairs attributed to relatives of the women.

In Ms Mai's case a village council - also in Punjab province - allegedly ordered her rape because her younger brother was seen with a woman from a more influential clan.

The case has many similarities with Mukhtar Mai's.

Ms Mai and her brother say the allegations were made to cover up a sexual assault on the boy by a group of men from that clan.

Ms Mai's case has become embroiled in a lengthy legal battle of convictions, acquittals and appeals. The suspected rapists are in custody awaiting a Supreme Court ruling.

Violence against women is commonplace in Pakistan, and many incidents go unreported by victims.

Human rights group say hundreds of women are raped or killed every year in so-called "honour" attacks.

Ms Mai's case brought political overtones when President Pervez Musharraf banned her from travelling abroad because he feared she might "tarnish" Pakistan's image.

He now says she is free to travel where she pleases and say what she likes.

Correspondents say the case has been a rare public relations disaster for President Musharraf.


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2005 Asian Sex Gazette.
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