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Pakistani police arrest key suspect in shocking highway rape



ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistani police arrested the second attacker in the gang rape of a woman whose car was damaged on an empty highway last night when two assailants pulled her out of the vehicle and brutally attacked her while her terrified children watched, helpless.

The suspect, Abid Malhi, was arrested late Monday, ending a month-long prosecution. He was tried in the eastern city of Lahore on Tuesday and sentenced to two weeks in prison pending further police investigation. The other attacker, Shafkat Ali, was arrested a week after the September attack.

Earlier, police said the woman locked the doors of her car when she ran out of fuel on the way to Punjab province, where the capital is Lahore, and called for help. But the two men, who were armed, broke a car window and dragged her outside, where she was raped.

The attack shocked Pakistan and prompted women̵

7;s rights activists – especially after a senior Punjab police officer, Umar Sheikh, accused the victim of being alone in the car with her two children at night and running out of fuel.

The incident also drew dozens of protesters to streets in several cities, including Islamabad and Karachi, condemning attacks on women.

Sheikh’s speech also prompted a petition from women’s rights activists to be fired. But Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government refused to fire or convict the officer.

“This is the way of thinking in Pakistan,” said activist Tahira Abdullah.

She added: “I have heard it again and again from many men:” Why did she travel so late? Why was he on the road? Why not check the gas? Why wasn’t there a man with her? I would never let my wife, my sister, my mother out alone. “

Abdullah says Pakistani women and girls are facing an increasingly violent response from the country’s traditional male-dominated society. Nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in so-called “honor killings” that allegedly violate conservative norms of love and marriage.

“It doesn’t matter the political party – right, left, central, military, civilian. These are just women against women, she said. “With the growing education of girls and young women and the raising of awareness and awakening of girls and women, men are now beginning to feel threatened and afraid of losing their authority, control and power.”

In recent months, Pakistan has been subjected to a series of brutal attacks on women and girls, most recently the rape and murder of a 2-year-old girl in Khyber Puhtunkhwa province who was abducted outside her home where she played.

“We have regressed … we are getting worse, worse,” Abdullah said.

Last month, Shahina Shahin, a 25-year-old journalist and activist, was killed in the southwestern province of Balochistan in a shooting that police blamed on her husband.

More than 150 Pakistani journalists signed a petition last month complaining about verbal attacks and sexist rhetoric circulating on social media, many of which originated with those linked to the Khan government, according to the petition.

In April, two teenage girls were killed in the harsh border region of Waziristan by a family member after a video of the teenagers appeared on social media, according to Pakistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission.

The obsolete – and deadly – imagine that “honor” is in women’s bodies and that action is still prevalent in Pakistan and that much more than laws will be needed to bring about change when perpetrators of “honor” crimes continue to operate with impunity, “the commission said in a recent statement. “The patriarchy that maintains casual sexism is the same patriarchy that is used to justify, approve, and commit murders with honor.” Neither is acceptable. “

Two leading institutes – the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Oslo Institute for Peace Studies – ranked Pakistan among the four worst countries in the world as a woman, preceded only by Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Abdullah said human rights activists would hand the government a charter of demands, including a renewed call for the dismissal of Officer Sheikh.

“We do not forget him. We will continue. We will be relentless, “Abdullah said.


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