Tribal ‘justice’

With every prison blown to dust,
My enemies walk free…

Mukhtaran Bibi’s rapists, who received approval to gang-rape from a village panchayat, were set free by judges in Multan today. In some ways this outcome is hard to believe, in other ways all too easy:

The victim of Pakistan’s most notorious rape case wept bitterly after a court in the southern city of Multan overturned the verdict against three of the four alleged rapists and two tribal elders, and quashed the death sentence against the sixth… five of the men prepared to walk free…

… she has maintained the 24-hour police guard at the gate of her remote farmhouse after several death threats. She believed the threats stemmed from her refusal to entertain repeated clemency pleas from the Mastoi, who still live just 100 metres away…

… the panchayat system… has no legal standing but is still prevalent in many rural towns. Last week elders in another Punjabi village ordered that a two-year-old girl be married to a man 33 years her senior. The betrothal was in compensation for an adulterous affair committed by her uncle. [Guardian]

The wisdom of the elders indeed. Previous post here.

Update: In the herky-jerky, stop-start fashion of a desi criminal justice system, the rapists have been re-arrested (thanks, SD).

11 thoughts on “Tribal ‘justice’

  1. Doesn’t pakistan follow the shariah system? They wouldn’t even let go a woman accused of adultery in Nigeria!! stupid things like this just piss me off!! I doubt it shes ever going to get justice?

  2. ‘Panchaya’t sysytem in the sub-continent is wretched. The calues of misogyny and backwardness that prevail in the mindset of some village men rule and legislate on the lives of all the people they have power over. It is wretched and heart breaking.

  3. When are men going to realize how precious women are to this world? This poor woman should not be enduring this at age 30 or at any age. In the article, it states that several hundred people waited outside while she was gang raped. Why didn’t anyone go in and help her? There is strength in numbers! Being an Indian American woman, I am truly appalled at the conditions that women in India and Pakistan have to endure. It is truly sad. When are men going to realize the true value of their women?? That will surely be the day.

  4. an upset female

    Women in large parts of the Indian subcontinent…they suffer so much under conditions that have not changed in villages since the middle ages….it is heart wrenching…Guru Nanak wrote about this…and 400 years later…for poor women in the countryside…things are still like slavery….it makes me want to cry and it makes me feel so angry

  5. Oh man! When I read the NYT story I thought it had a happy ending and also since the top brass seemed to know her circumstances – I thought she would get justice. But for the judge to let them walk free – well…

    I was wondering if you guys have seen Bawandar(starring nandita das) based on a true story of a woman in Rajasthan. Very, very similar again I don’t think the rapists were punished or anything

  6. It’s encouraging to see an Indian male who is angered by this as well. Many times, I feel as though Indian males really don’t care and see nothing wrong with what goes on with Indian women. Thank you for your concern.

  7. I believe sometime ago there was a law implemented in India, that 33% of the seats in the local governing Panchayats had to be held by women. I believe it was to negate the subjugation and disempowerment of women such as the one seen with Mukhtaran Bibi (which incidentally made me absolutely sick). And in fact some rural panchayat’s in India have done wonders to improve literacy and empower women. I believe the panchayat in West Bengal is hailed as a model system, with 41% of the seats held by women.

    However, I wonder with the degradation and ill-treatment of women so pervasive throughout Indian culture and society, if women will ever get justice. After all its not only men but women who also perpetuate this vicious cycle, with insisting on dowries for their sons, female infanticide, and bride burning due to a small or lack of a dowry.

    As an Indian women who loves her culture and heritage, there are just some aspects that absolutely disgust me!!!