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Woman forcibly wed, gang raped and exiled for rejecting proposal

MAILSI: Police have refused to file a case involving a woman who had been exiled from her village on the decision of a local panchayat, after she was wed against her will and gang raped several days ago.

The woman was sent to the crisis centre in Vehari on Tuesday. Mailsi Moza Arain resident Humera was recently exiled from her village after her neighbour proposed to her and she rejected his proposal. Humera, who lived with her mother Nighat received a marriage proposal a week ago from her neighbour Raza. After she rejected the proposal local land lords Munawwar, Saeed Baksh, Mateen, Umair Haroon and others called a panchayat on Raza’s request. “Raza told them that his proposal had been rejected because the woman was having an affair and that the panchayat ought to deliver a harsh sentence,” said an eye-witness Latif.

Residents of the village said that the panchayat forcefully performed a nikah ceremony where Humera was wed to Raza. “The girl was crying and clearly shook her head to indicate ‘no’ every time she was asked about the marriage. The men took no notice,” said a neighbour Almas Bibi.

Following the nikah, Raza and three of his friends took Humera into a room and raped her.

According to villagers, the men later boasted about having ‘taught her a lesson’ for her previous conduct. “They openly flaunted the fact that they had raped her for rejecting him. They feared no consequences,” an eye witness said.

Following the sexual assault, the panchayat ruled that Humera be turned out of the village and never be allowed to set foot in the area again. Humera then approached the Women’s Crisis Centre and has sought refuge in one of their offices in Vehari.

MPA and Women’s Crisis Centre president Mrs Shameela Aslam said that she would personally ensure that Humera got legal representation.

“I will make sure that she is given financial assistance and the men responsible for this horrific incident are brought to justice,” Aslam said, adding that the police would be pressured to register the case. “We will campaign on her behalf to ensure that these men are brought to justice”.

Humer told reporters that the police had refused to file her case against the panchayat as well as against Raza and his accomplices.

Source: The Express Tribune

Date:2/16/2011

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