“The violence against women is not a new phenomenon, but incidents of gang-rape have suddenly increased in Pakistan and mostly, those who commit gang-rapes or kill women in the name of honor are influential tribesmen or feudal, therefore, they escape punishment,” said Naeem Mirza, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organization. Religious groups in Pakistan strongly oppose any changes to the law, saying it protects core Islamic values.
A third-year Christian nursing student in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi was found unconscious with a head injury near Doctors’ Backyard Mess after a Medico-Legal Officer (MLO), Dr Jabbar Memon and five others allegedly raped her and threw her down from the fourth floor. The gang-rape has outraged rights groups, who say the increase in violence against women reflects the demeaning status of women in the country who are victims of a centuries-old tribal justice system.
Mukhtar Mai, now 38, from Meerwala village near Multan, was gang-raped by four men on June 22, 2002, after the village council declared that she must be punished because her 11-year-old brother Abdul Shakoor allegedly had an illicit affair with a girl from the Mastoi clan. The council was initially convened to consider her brother’s case; their verdict was that he must be sodomised as punishment. Mukhtar Mai went to plead for mercy for her brother, but when she appeared before the council it decided that she must be raped instead, presumably for daring to challenge the village council’s verdict. Four men immediately volunteered to carry out the sentence; she was dragged out and raped while the rest of the village watched.
In March 2005, the high court of the central province of Punjab ordered the release of twelve men connected to the gang-rape of Mukhtar Mai. Authorities had petitioned the court to extend the detention of the twelve, but the court rejected the plea.