July 27 (UPI) — Police in Pakistan arrested 29 people after a village council ordered the revenge rape of a 16-year-old girl whose brother allegedly raped another girl, age 12, local authorities said.
Family members of the two rape victims filed complaints with police at the Violence Against Women center in central Pakistan’s Multan.
The family of the younger girl said she was raped by a man while she was cutting grass in a field in Muzaffarabad’s Rajpur area on July 16. Members of the village council, a panchayat, convened July 18 to determine a punishment for the accused man.
They determined the brother of the 12-year-old girl should rape the sister of the suspect. The older girl was then dragged to the location of the panchayat meeting, where she was assaulted in front of the council members and her parents, Pakistan’s Dawn news reported.
The pairs of siblings are distantly related to each other.
“They are victims and accused at the same time,” Ahsan Younish, head of the Multan police, told The Washington Post. “It’s barbaric.”
Police arrested 29 people, all of whom are related to the victims and suspects in the case. Family members on both sides of the case told police they all agreed on the punishment in the case. The family of the older girl initially offered up their two older, married daughters to be raped, but the village elders determined the unmarried daughter must take the punishment, the Post reported.
Younis said the two males who allegedly carried out the rapes could face the death penalty.
Asma Jahangir, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association in Pakistan and human rights activist, told Pakistan’s Geo news that all members of the panchayat should be prosecuted in the case because they have no legal standing in the country.
He said the government should serve as complainant and pursue such criminal cases, not the families or victims.
“It pains me to say it, but our judicial system is so weak that those who appear in front of it, even if they are witnesses, either get paid off or are forced to reach a compromise and it spoils the case,” he said.