A 21-year-old social media influencer with dual U.S. and German citizenship told Vice News for a report published on Wednesday that she was “brutally gang raped” by two Pakistani men during a recent trip to their country to film a travel video blog.
Arabela Arpi spoke to Vice News via Zoom call from Durham, North Carolina, for its August 10 story. She told the media outlet that she was “threatened, extorted and then ‘brutally’ gang raped by two men” in Dera Ghazi Khan, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province, on July 17. Arbi said she had “befriended” the two men she accuses of rape during previous trips to Pakistan. She claimed that one of her alleged rapists “filmed the act and threatened to leak it.”
Detailing Arpi’s account, Vice News wrote:
Arpi said she managed to leave after promising the accused she would not report the incident. “The rape was one thing,” Arpi said. “But what happened after was equally tormenting.” Arpi said that in Lahore, she tried to register a police report and get a medical examination but officials refused, saying she needed to go back to Dera Ghazi Khan. By the time she arrived back, it had been 36 hours since the rape.
“I was in the same clothes for nearly three days,” she said. At the hospital, Arpi said she was subjected to the two-finger test, which was declared unconstitutional by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last year. She added that even though she had bruises on her body, the medical practitioner didn’t mention them in the medico-legal report. Her DNA test came out on July 28, confirming the rape 11 days after it happened.
“A case of rape and filming obscene acts was registered by the Border Military Police on July 19. Arpi also said she was misled to believe she had permission to stay in the city, which has a history of militancy and usually isn’t included in the cities tourists can visit with their visas. A trial is underway, with one accused still at large,” Vice News reported Wednesday.
Arpi said she met Muzamil Sipra, the man she accuses of rape and blackmail, on the website Couchsurfing, where he reportedly maintains a verified profile, according to Vice News. Couchsurfing is a social media platform that connects travelers either looking for a place to stay or to share their home, according to the service’s website.
Aazan Safdar, the second man Arpi accuses of rape, remained at large as of August 10, according to Vice News. Safdar reportedly applied for pre-arrest bail on August 6 but was subsequently denied bail.
The government of Pakistan’s Punjab province, the site of Arpi’s rapes on July 17, declared a “rape emergency” on June 20 due to a recent spike in the rate of such crime in the region
“Punjab Home Minister Atta Tarar said that an increase in rapes was a serious issue for society and government officials,” India’s WION news website reported on June 22.
“Four to five cases of rape are being reported daily in Punjab due to which the government is considering special measures to deal with cases of sexual harassment, abuse and coercion,” Tarar was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s Geo News.
“To deal with rape cases, the administration has declared an emergency,” he stated.
Pakistani police document 11 rapes daily, on average, according to WION. More than 22,000 recorded rapes occurred in Pakistan between 2015 to 2021, according to a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Pakistan’s criminal justice system has an overall conviction rate for rape of less than one percent.