A tribal court in Muslim-majority Pakistan has sentenced a 19-year-old woman to death for adultery after she accused her cousin of raping her at “gunpoint.”
The alleged victim, identified only as Shumaila, reportedly lodged a complaint with local law enforcement, a move that prompted local authorities to arrest four men in connection with the ruling issued by a local panchayat, a tribal court that operates outside the official justice system in remote areas of Pakistan.
Before the authorities arrested the men, Qaisar Hasnain, a local police officer, told Hindustan Times, “We have registered an FIR [first information report] against the panchayat members and will take them into custody for declaring her Kari (liable to death either by stoning or else).”
The Express Tribune reports: “Four men were booked in Rajanpur on Saturday for their involvement in a Panchayat (unofficial village court) declaring a teenage girl, who was allegedly raped by a relative, a ‘Kari’ [adulteress].”
Various news reports reveal that the incident took place in Rajanpur, a rural district about 250 miles from the capital of Punjab province Lahore.
Citing local authorities, the Express Tribune notes that “the 19-year-old girl was ordered to be either killed or sold off on charges of adultery leveled against her.”
The local tribal court accused Shumaila of intentionally seducing her attacker.
In her statement to local police, the alleged victim reportedly said her cousin Khaleel Ahmed snuck inside her house while she and her family slept and “raped her at gunpoint.”
“I could not raise an alarm as Ahmed was holding a gun. But the panchayat refused to accept my statement and declared that I willfully slept with him,” she told police.
The Express Tribune points out: “Four men, including Muhammad Shafee, the father of the alleged rapist, forced the Panchayat to pronounce Shumaila a Kari [adulteress] on Thursday. The girl’s father was forced to accept the decision.”
Local authorities have sent Shumaila to a government safe house for women in Rajanpur, notes the Hindustan Times.
So-called “honor” killings and death sentences are sanctioned by the tribal court system but have no legal standing, explains the news outlet.
“Women declared Kari are often executed by their own family in so-called honor killings to restore their reputation,” adds Daily Mail.