Thursday, March 24, 2005

Muslim women raped as punishment for the "crimes" of others

This month a gang of men who had raped a woman as punishment for her 12-year old brother's alleged crime, were acquitted. A Pakistani village council ordered the rape as punishishment for the boy's supposed affair with an older woman in the village (it was later found out that the boy himself had been sodomized by three men on the council and had threatened to report the incident.) The woman, Mukhtar Mai, begged for mercy, but a group of men, on order of the 10-man village council, gang-raped her while the rest of the village did nothing.

Muslim women in Pakistan often suffer "honor punishments" (#$&#!) to pay for crimes attributed, not to them, but to their relatives! Wow. These Muslims are really a piece of work. Why are attacks against women always and forever accepted and even promoted within the Muslim society?

How can ANYONE believe that the Islamic terrorists are only a "tiny radical minority" when you've got Muslim men who think that gang-rape as "punishment" for someone else's alleged crime is perfectly fine? What is wrong with these people?!!! They are seriously warped!

Just in case anyone thinks incidents like this are isolated and rare, think again. It happens ALL the time. More than 150 [reported]rapes have taken place in this region of southern Punjab in the past 6 months - that's almost one per day! And that's only one region of the country!

OK, so here's a link to the original story that was published when the crime came to light in 2002:

BBC NEWS South Asia Pakistan woman tells of rape ordeal

And then, here is the acquittal story as published on BBC this month:

Anger at Pakistan rape acquittals

The acquittal of five men convicted in a high-profile gang-rape case in the Pakistani province of Punjab has drawn sharp criticism from rights groups. Women's organisations have described the acquittals as "shocking and unbelievable".

A Pakistani tribal council allegedly ordered the rape of Mukhtar Mai in February 2002 as punishment for a rape falsely attributed to her brother.

Six men were convicted of Ms Mai's rape five of whom have now been set free.

Security concerns

"We are all in a state of shock. This was such a well-known case that we couldn't imagine such a thing would happen," Farzana Bari, director of the Centre for Excellence in Gender Studies at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad told BBC News Online.

Ms Bari said the acquittal issue had dominated a meeting of leading Pakistani women's organisations in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Friday. The meeting was called to organise celebrations for International Women's Day on 8 March. "We spent most of our time worrying about Mukhtar Mai's safety," Ms Bari said.

The five acquitted men are residents of the same village as Ms Mai - the site of the crime in February 2002. Ms Mai has repeatedly refused to leave the village.

Women's rights organisations now fear the security guards provided to Ms Mai during the trial and the appeal process may be withdrawn.
They have asked Ms Mai to travel to Islamabad and have offered to help her explain her situation to the media. Ms Mai is expected to reach the capital on Saturday.

'Government failure'

Local NGOs held a demonstration against the acquittal in the southern city of Multan on Friday. Protestors called for a retrial and chanted slogans against the government.

In the provincial capital of Lahore, the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, the country's leading human rights body, expressed disappointment at the "state's failure to ensure justice". "We are disappointed that persons involved in a most heinous crime have been able to escape punishment and that the victim has instead been forced to pay the price for the state's failure to ensure justice," commission director IA Rehman told the AFP news agency.

Another well-known human rights lawyer, Hina Jilani, has already called for a retrial. Ms Mai is planning to appeal. Many prominent lawyers have offered their services free, including former Pakistani interior minister, Aitzaz Ahsan. "I am happy to take her appeal to the Supreme Court," Mr Ahsan said.

The panchayat in Meerwala, southern Punjab, had found Ms Mai's younger brother, Shakoor, guilty of raping a girl from the village's powerful Mastoi clan. It was later revealed in a conventional court that the 12-year-old had in fact been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the same men who later made up his jury.
It was alleged that Ms Mai was then taken away to be raped in revenge for her brother's supposed crime.

Ms Mai became famous after the rape for human rights work and pursuing the case through the courts, although she said she faced threats from her alleged attackers' supporters.

Tribal courts are effectively the only system of justice in many rural areas of Pakistan, traditionally relying on resolving disputes between whole families.

Women often suffer "honour punishments" to pay for crimes attributed to relatives.