And they are likely not punishing them because Islamic law, as this story notes, requires four male witnesses to establish rape. Without them, there is no crime. The Pakistani government has recently adopted Western laws on rape, but Islamic clerics are fiercely resisting this change on the grounds that it is un-Islamic. And obviously many local officials around the country will be sympathetic to that view.
“Pakistani rape victim says attacks increasing,” from Reuters, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
KARACHI – A Pakistani rape victim who became a prominent women’s rights campaigner said on Thursday violence against women was increasing in Pakistan because authorities were not serious about punishing the perpetrators.
Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang-raped in 2002 on the orders of a traditional village council, said she was appalled by a similar attack on a 16-year-old girl at the weekend.
“Such inhuman acts are increasing in Pakistan as the government is not sincere about punishing offenders,” Mai told Reuters on Thursday.
“When I read about this girl’s ordeal, I felt the work we have done for women in the last four years was for nothing,” she said.
A group of Pakistani men has been accused of raping the 16-year old girl in the southern Sindh province at the weekend and forcing her to parade naked through her village because one of her relatives eloped with a young woman from the men’s family.
Such attacks, known as honour crimes because they are committed in response to a perceived slight on a family”s honour, are common in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, especially in backward, rural communities.
“When I read about it I realised what this girl must have gone through, and all this in the name of honour,” Mai said….
Mai was gang-raped in Punjab province in 2002 as a punishment because her brother had had a relationship with a young woman without the approval of the woman’s family.
Mai was an illiterate villager at the time of her rape but took her attackers to court in a case that gained international prominence, won her human rights awards and made her an icon for oppressed women in Pakistan.
Her case also highlighted Pakistan’s laws on rape and helped galvanise public opinion behind a government-backed change to Islamic laws, approved late last year, that makes it easier for women to seek justice in civil courts.
Under the old Islamic law on rape, a woman risked prosecution for adultery unless she could produce four male witnesses to a rape.
But Mai said those guilty of honour crimes knew that even if they were convicted and imprisoned they would be free after three or four years. The case against the men who attacked her is still going through the courts….
In a separate incident, a man and woman were stoned to death by their relatives in Punjab province last week on suspicion of committing adultery.