Another Pakistani rape victim seeks justice
KARACHI, Wednesday (AFP) Her ordeal at the hands of five rapists was
harrowing enough, she says. But the medieval-style tribal justice system
that lives on in parts of Pakistan made what happened next even worse.
"I may not be able to speak much to you but my life is in danger. I
don't know why this happened to me, but my life has been destroyed,"
33-year-old Mariam Bano says in a hasty telephone call from a secret
Bano says she was gang raped in July in Ayub Goth, a dusty,
down-at-heel village on the eastern outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan's
teeming largest city.
The case went before a traditional council of tribal elders -
officially banned in Pakistan but still widespread - who pardoned the
alleged rapists on condition that they paid a fine, and then told her to
She and her family refused to accept the judgment and reported it to
police. The alleged head of the council, Hussain Bux Chandio, was
arrested a few weeks ago but then released by a magistrate in Karachi.
Police this week rearrested him along with one of the alleged
rapists, named as Asmatullah Chandio. But Mariam and her husband Rasheed
Chandio are running scared.
"I tried to kill myself when a court released Hussain Bux and I was
asked to remain silent, but police foiled my attempt," says Mariam, who
says she is now moving from hiding place to hiding place on an almost
daily basis. Police say the couple have received threats from
unidentified sources. Mariam and Rasheed will not confirm this, but say
they are afraid they could be targeted by the rapists or by local
tribesmen for not keeping quiet.
It is the second time this year that the atavistic version of justice
dished out by tribes in conservative, strictly Islamic Pakistan has come
under an unflattering spotlight.
Bano's case has similarities with that of Mukhtaran Mai, who won
worldwide acclaim from rights groups for pursuing justice after she was
gang raped on the orders of another tribal council in 2002.
Most women remain silenced by fear and the notions of honour and
shame that still leave rape victims ostracised in Pakistan, but Mai
faced up to her attackers in court and six were sentenced to death three