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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Rape 'common' in Punjab
A mother whose daughter committed suicide after being raped is comforted
Police have been accused of failing women
Rape and "honour killings" have become widespread in some districts of Pakistan, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

A report, which is yet to be published, said more than 150 women were sexually assaulted in the first six months of the year in southern Punjab

There were also about 40 so-called "honour killings", carried out by men who allege that the behaviour of a woman has brought dishonour to their family.

But HRCP spokeswoman Tanveer Jehan told BBC News Online that law enforcement agencies were still treating the perpetrators with leniency.

The report comes a month after a local tribal council near the Punjabi city of Muzaffargarh ordered the gang rape of a woman as punishment for her younger brother's alleged affair with a woman of another tribe.

Family violence

According to the HRCP report, "honour killings" accounted for almost half of the 82 murders of women in the districts of Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur in southern Punjab.

'Honour killings' not find any place in our religion or law

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf,
April 2000
Four of the "honour" killings were carried out by the women's fathers, 15 by their brothers, 10 by their husbands, two by their sons and nine others by close relatives.

Two women were murdered because they failed to conceive and another was killed because she refused to become a prostitute, according to the report.

Of the 150 women who were sexually assaulted, many were raped by more than one man.

Authorities say they are seeking the death penalty for the four men accused of gang-raping the woman in the remote village of Mirwali near Muzaffargarh.

Police have arrested a total of 15 men in connection with the rape and their trial is expected to open at the weekend.

International outrage

Following the case, which sparked outrage at home and abroad, the provincial governor, Khalid Maqbool, suspended several police officials for negligence in investigating the gang rape.

The victim of a recent gang rape
The gang rape case aroused much anger

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, also summoned the police chief of Punjab, along with other senior provincial officials, to appear before the Supreme Court.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf condemned the practice of "honour killings" in a landmark speech two years ago.

"Such actions do not find any place in our religion or law," he said, adding that killing in the name of honour "is murder and will be treated as such."

See also:

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