Police in Pakistan have arrested eight men in a village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for allegedly torturing a 14-year-old girl and parading her naked. Another man accused in the crime is still at large and police said they were tracking him down.
The victim's family initially accused the nine men of stripping and parading the teenage girl in a village in Dera Ismail Khan district. However, they later changed their complaint on Monday (30 October) and said the men illegally confined her in a house, tore her clothes and beat her up.
The Guardian reported that the girl was tortured because the men suspected her brother of having an extra-marital relationship with a woman. A local village council, called Panchayat or Jirga, ruled that the woman's family can seek revenge on the man by dishonouring his sister.
The victim's family accused the local police station officials of not registering their complaint at first. One of the brothers of the victim, Sajid Khan, then approached the provincial police, requesting them to intervene and launch an inquiry.
The eight accused were later arrested and presented before a judicial magistrate on Wednesday (1 November).
In his complaint, Khan reportedly said that the accused men caught his sister on the morning of 27 October when she went to a local pond to fetch water with her cousins. They then stripped her off, forcing her to run away, but they caught her again from a house where she had taken refuge.
They dragged her out, beat her up and kept her in illegal confinement, the complaint added, according to Dawn News.
In a similar case reported three months ago near Multan in the country's Punjab province, a 26-man village council ordered the rape a 17-year-old girl after her brother was accused of sexual assault on another woman.
These councils are illegal and accused of using women as barter for family disputes. There are legislations that prevent the functioning of these councils, but they still operate in many rural parts of Pakistan.
"Unfortunately, despite pro-women legislation, we see that in remote areas women are still being bartered as inanimate objects," Samar Minullah, a human rights activist, told The Guardian.
"We consider girls or women as the honour of a home or a community, yet we dishonour them, barter them and hand them in compensation to end disputes? This is not only illegal but un-Islamic too," she added.