Last Updated: Mon Jun 11, 2012 17:57 pm (KSA) 14:57 pm (GMT)

Pakistan remands police over rapes of five women

A protest in support of Mukhtar Mai and against the Pakistan’s Supreme Court verdict, in April, 2011. Mai, a victim of a village council-sanctioned gang-rape, became a symbol of the country’s oppressed women. (Reuters)
A protest in support of Mukhtar Mai and against the Pakistan’s Supreme Court verdict, in April, 2011. Mai, a victim of a village council-sanctioned gang-rape, became a symbol of the country’s oppressed women. (Reuters)

A Pakistani court on Monday imprisoned three border policemen accused of raping five young women and filming the attack, officials said.

The women, aged 15 to 21, said they were taken from a picnic resort to a police station in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan, 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the capital Islamabad, where they were raped.

“The court remanded the three policemen into custody until June 14,” said Tariq Basra, of the Border Military Police.

“We are waiting for the medical report to ascertain whether (an) allegation of rape is true or false,” Basra told AFP.

The alleged attack, which the women said was filmed by the officers according to investigators, took place last Thursday.

Later, the women went to the police, and the accused took refuge with tribal elders, who handed them back to police late Sunday, said district administrator, Iftikhar Ali Sahu.

The court on Monday also refused to allow the girls to return to their parents, saying that they are instead in the custody of administration officials.

“These girls will be present in court again on Tuesday enabling the judge to verify the identity of the parents, guardians,” Basra told AFP.

Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute in Pakistan, where women are often treated as second-class citizens.

In April 2011, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of five men sentenced to death in Pakistan’s most famous rape case, that of Mukhtar Mai.

Mai was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a village council as a punishment, after her brother, who was aged just 12 at the time, was accused of having illicit relations with a woman from a rival clan.

A local court had sentenced six men to death, but a higher court acquitted five of them in March 2005, and commuted the sentence for the main accused, Abdul Khaliq, to life imprisonment.

According to the independent women’s rights group Aurat Foundation, more than 800 women were raped in Pakistan in 2011.

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