ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took notice of the rape of a teenage girl in an impoverished southern district of Punjab which reportedly took place on the orders of a panchayat or village council.
The panchayat comprising 20 members, including four women, in Muzaffarabad district of Multan had ordered a man earlier this month to rape a 16-year-old girl in revenge for the earlier rape of his sister. Taking notice of the matter, the CJP issued directives for Punjab Police Inspector General Capt (retd) Arif Nawaz Khan to submit a report into the incident.
According to police sources, 12 members of the panchayat – including the man who presided over the meeting, or Sarpanch – have been arrested so far while a manhunt is underway to arrest the remaining members who fled after the incident.
This is not the first incident of its kind in Punjab. Several similar incidents cases have been reported in the media while most remain unreported due to social stigma associated with such cases.
Panchayats or jirgas are a traditional means of settling disputes in the country’s rural areas, where courts and lawyers are not always accessible or trusted. Such councils do not, however, hold any legal standing.