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Man in Shangla sentenced to life for abduction, ‘marital rape’ of minor wife

SHANGLA: A local court has convicted a person for abduction and ‘marital rape’ of his minor wife, whose Rukhsathi had not taken place, and sentenced him to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs300,000 on him.

Additional Sessions Judge Mohammad Khan Yousafzai, presiding a gender-based violence court, after completion of trial pronounced that the prosecution proved its case against the accused, Rashid Ali, and the evidence on record connected him with the commission of the offence.

The judge convicted the accused on two counts and sentenced him under section 365-b (kidnapping) of Pakistan Penal Code to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs100,000, and to 25 years imprisonment with a fine of Rs200,000 under section 376 (rape) of PPC.

The court, however, acquitted seven of the family members of the convict due to lack of evidence. The counsel appearing for the convict said that the victim was legal wife of his client and hence no offence was committed by him.

Victim’s counsel claims it is first conviction of its kind

The judge in his judgement discussed in detail different aspects of section 375 of PPC dealing with rape. The court observed that a close and critical reading of section 375 PPC, defining the offence of rape, made no exception to marriage.

“If the allegation of rape in marriage is ignored, yet another question is the victim’s juvenility. The victim, being just above 16 years of age, is still covered in the definition of ‘child,’ being under 18 years of age,” the court observed.

The FIR of the occurrence was registered at Karora police station in Shangla on June 10, 2023, on complaint of the victim’s mother. The complainant stated that her husband died around 10 years ago and around two years ago she arranged Nikkah of her daughter (the victim) with the accused but Rukhsatjhi was yet to take place.

She claimed that she had put a demand to the family of the accused to arrange separate accommodation for her daughter before formal marriage, but they were reluctant to do so. She alleged that on the eventful night, they were present at home when the accused along with his father and four other relatives barged into their house and forcibly took away the victim while the complainant, her son and another daughter were tied and also beaten.

Initially, the FIR was registered for abducting the girl, but subsequently when she was recovered by police different provisions of PPC and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act, dealing with sexual assaults and sexual abuse, were also included in it.

Following the recovery of the girl, her statement was recorded by a judicial magistrate, wherein she blamed the accused for repeatedly assaulting her during captivity. Her medical examination also confirmed that she was subjected to sexual assault.

The complainant’s counsel Mian Safeer told Dawn that after a year and rounds of trial, recording statements and producing evidences, the court eventually found the accused guilty of the offence of the abduction of the victim and having sex without her consent.

The lawyer said it was the first-ever conviction in a case of ‘marital rape’ after amendments made in PPC in 2021.

He said after the girl abduction she remained in captivity of the accused for four days and she was recovered from his custody and produced before a magistrate.

He added that earlier the bail petitions of the prime accused had also been rejected by Peshawar High Court Mingora Bench and additional sessions judge.

Source: Dawn