Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pakistani Soldiers Accused of Rape

Pakistani Soldiers Accused of Rape

The family of a young woman in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has accused three soldiers of raping her.

Police have registered a case against the unnamed army personnel, said to be members of the Mujahid Battalion, for the rape of the villager.

The family says the army has put pressure on them to withdraw the case. The military has not yet commented.

This is the first alleged rape in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in which military personnel have been accused.

Villagers' protest

A copy of the police report was faxed to the BBC in Pakistan by one of the villagers.
It says the alleged victim - a divorced woman in her early 30s from the village of Palri, 100km (62 miles) north of the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Muzaffarabad - had gone to collect firewood on 15 July when she was raped by three men.

A minor accompanying her ran away but was chased by one attacker, the report says. The minor was stopped but started to cry, forcing her attacker to flee.

Local villagers say inquiries established the three alleged rapists were from the army.

Hundreds of people from Palri and neighbouring villages staged a protest in nearby Athamuqam on Wednesday, demanding the culprits be arrested by Friday and brought to justice.

Second case

The woman's brother-in-law says military authorities were informed of the incident.

But, he says, instead of helping they put pressure on his family not to pursue the case.
The brother-in-law sent an application on behalf of all the villagers to the deputy commissioner of the Neelum valley on 21 July, urging a case be registered.

"When our protectors start plundering our honour, who are we supposed to turn to?" he asked in the application.

The case was registered on 26 July at the police station in Athamuqam.

The police report also alleges the attempted rape of another woman, from the village of Bun Chattar, at an unspecified earlier date.

It says that attempt also involved military personnel but villagers decided not to press the matter as the woman managed to escape.

Pakistan has been subject to two recent high-profile rape cases.

Mukhtar Mai, who was raped in 2002 allegedly on the orders of a village council, has fought a strong campaign to bring her attackers to justice.

And Dr Shazia Khalid says she was forced to flee her home in Balochistan after her rape - allegedly by an army officer - sparked tribal clashes with security forces.

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