Pakistani police have arrested 25 people allegedly linked to a village council that ordered a man to rape a 16-year-old girl in revenge for an earlier rape of his sister. The arrests were made in the city of Multan, in the Punjab province, on Wednesday 26 July. A hunt for more suspects is underway.
Officials said the families of the two girls are related and the BBC reported that members of both had been on the council that made the shocking decision. "A jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old," police official Allah Baksh told AFP.
Al Jazeera spoke to Malik Rashid, the local police official heading the investigation, who said that it was not a formal village council but a gathering of family members from the area.
"A total of 29 people were involved in this ghastly crime, and we have 25 of them in our custody," Multan City Police Officer Ahsan Younus told Reuters.
It was reported that on 16 July a 12-year-old girl was assaulted while working in the family fields by her cousin. Her mother said she was covered in a cloth and "forcibly raped".
Rashid said the council then gathered together and resolved that a member of the alleged attacker's family must be raped in revenge. A police report filed by the second victim's mother said that the family were at home when her 16-year-old daughter was taken away by three men.
Rashid added that the second victim is the sister of the alleged attacker in the first rape. Both parents of the two victims later filed complaints at a local police station, it was reported, and medical examinations have confirmed that rape did indeed take place in both cases.
It was reported by Pakistan's Dawn newspaper that the girl was forced to appear in front of the council before she was raped in full view of the members. Jirgas, although prohibited due to the controversial decisions they have previously made, are councils formed of local elders who on sometimes settle disputes in rural areas of the country.