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Girls & Women

25 Arrested After Rape of Girl, 12, Led to ‘Revenge Rape’ by Her Brother

A sister for a sister.

Often, this trade is carried out in cases of child marriage in parts of the world where one girl is traded for a girl from another family.

But in a small village in rural Pakistan, earlier this month, a trade was made in the name of justice, with a much more violent outcome. According to police statements and news reports, the rape of a 12-year-old girl resulted in a tragic second rape of a 16-year-old girl in order for the victimized family to settle the score, according to reports. The crime is allegedly an “honor rape.”

According to the Associated Press, a 12-year-old girl was allegedly raped by Omar Wadda, 15, on July 16. 

The girl’s older brother, Mohammad Ashfaq, 20, then received permission from the village council to seek retribution against Wadda by raping Wadda’s little sister, a 16-year-old girl. 

Now, police and both families are outraged over the incident. 

The 12-year-old girl’s mother told local police that her daughter was attacked and raped in the afternoon while cutting grass in the family fields near Raja Pur

“She was covered in a cloth [by her attackers] and forcibly raped," her mother told police, Al Jazeera reports

Two days later, a jirga, a gathering of local leaders who make decision based on traditional Pashtun allegedly met after Mohammad Ashfaq complained to community leaders of his sister’s attack. 

Such councils are illegal but still convene and carry out community decisions in rural Pakistan, the New York Times reports

This council, however, was unusual. 

"It was not a formal village council, like has happened in the past," Malik Rashid, a local police official investigating the case, told Al Jazeera. "It was just a gathering of uncles and aunts [of the first victim] from that village, in the same area."

Read More: Pakistan Takes a Step Forward to End Honor Killings

Mohammad Bilal, a cousin of the 16-year-old victim, told the Associated Press that members of the Wadda family were present during the jirga meeting and had requested the council turn to legal action through the police. 

He said the council declined his family’s plea and sanctioned his cousin’s rape.  

"On the night of July 18, 2017 at about 2 a.m. I was sleeping with my children in my house when [...] my 16-year-old daughter was taken away [by three men]," the second victim's mother said in a police report, according to Al Jazeera

Some council members were present during the “honor rape” of the 16-year-old girl, the girl’s mother said in the police report, according to the New York Times

But Punjab district police chief Shehbaz Sharif said that police were too slow to respond to the first reported rape. Several junior officers involved in the first investigation have been suspended, the Guardian reports

Ashfaq has not been arrested and is still at large, police said

Both the 12-year-old and 16-year-old rape victims have undergone medical exams at Violence Against Women Center, a new government-run clinic in Multan. The center is the first set up after a law was passed last year that aimed to protect women from violence, Reuters reports

By Thursday, Omar Wadda was arrested along with 25 other council members believed to be involved in carrying out the ruling for Ashfaq to rape Wadda’s sister, Punjab district police spokeswoman Shabina Kareem said.  

Nearly 2,500 confirmed cases of violence against women, including rape, acid attacks, and instances in which a victim was set on fire, were documented by Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission in 2016.

Read More: Amal Clooney on Nadia Murad, Yazidi Case: ‘I Can’t Walk Away From This’

Pakistan is the third most dangerous country to be a woman. And seeking revenge or honor within a family is not uncommon. 

In October 2016, Pakistan finally closed a legal loophole that allowed “honor killings,” instances where a family could pardon an act of murder that was carried when shame was brought to the family. A law that Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE campaigned to amend through our #LeveltheLaw campaign with Equality Now. 

Now, police aim to bring justice to both victims. Activists, however, have expressed concern that little progress has been made to protect women in Pakistan. 

Mukhtar Mai, who was the victim of an “honor rape” in Pakistan in 2002, told the New York Times she feels little has changed in terms of the swift legal action she believes is necessary to end violence against women. 

“Until poor people get justice, such incidents will keep happening.” Mai told the New York Times. “When the perpetrators of such crimes do not fear the law or punishment, when they enjoy political patronage, such practices will not stop.”