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Rape victim and 'black virgin' Kainat Soomro condemned to die in Pakistan over rape

WHEN she was gang-raped by four men at the age of 13, her village classed her as a "black virgin" and ordered her killed.

In the rural village of Dadu in southern Pakistan, tradition held that Kainat Soomro's own family should murder her, as her sexual assault had made her a token of disgrace.

Four years later, Kainat is alive and a documentary about her story is premiering on television in the US.

But that doesn't mean she or her family is safe.

As the film Outlawed in Pakistan shows, Kainat Soomro is still "destined to be killed" because she took the step - extraordinary in Pakistan - of fighting for justice.

The film is a testament to her family’s strength and endurance in a life which has only become more difficult the longer they have stood up against tradition.

The Soomros have faced isolation, fear and intimidation from the four men Kainat accused of raping her, and from the members of the small village who were afraid of challenging moral laws which have been in existence for centuries.

By virtue of making the rape accusation, Kainat is an outlaw in her own country.

The film, which was selected for screening in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, retells the story of the young girl’s attack while walking home from school down a narrow village street by a shop where Kainat says the owner, Shaban Saikh, and three other men including a father and son held her down and sexually assaulted her.

The village declared her "kari", or a black virgin, and ordered her family to carry out an honor killing to end the shame a rape victim brings to a family, according to Pakistani culture.

The alleged rapists beat her father and one of her brothers. Her older brother went missing for three months and was found murdered.

But Kainat's parents refused to kill their daughter, instead deciding to take up her cause in a legal system which places the burden of proof on the victim.

"They told me I am not a real man," Kainat’s brother, Sabir tells the film-makers, Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann, "[that] you failed to follow your tradition, you failed to kill your sister."

Meanwhile, threats of death and further violence have forced the Soomros from the house they owned in Dadu to the city of Karachi, where all 18 family members now live in a two-bedroom apartment.

The men are unable to find work, so the women embroider fabrics to pay rent and they often have to resort to asking charities for food.

Her father says the family has "lost everything" pursuing the case in which neither the police or government authorities will take any responsibility.

When Kainat attends court she undergoes a barrage of "nasty" questions, up to 300 at a time, including "what part of your clothing did you remove?" or "who raped you first?".

The presiding judge is affronted that Kainat has brought the charges, and rules against her in part because she has accused a father and son of a gang rape.

"In his view," the film’s narrator says, "he said that would never happen in Pakistan" and describes Kainat’s accusations "as a product of her own fantasy".

The men are acquitted, and, in an interview with the film makers, appear bewildered at why their accuser didn't just stay at home "and keep quiet".

They see their acquittal as proof Kainat "does not have good character. If she was a decent woman, she would have sat at home, silent."

The film portrays Kainat's persistence in her quest for justice, hiring an attorney, making television appearances, appealing court decisions and her unwillingness to back down in the face of continued adversity as heroic.

Even as Kainat and her family say they will fight on, perhaps for years, her lawyer suggests the future will be difficult.

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Posted by Ronit on 2013-08-02 23:05:14 GMT

Dear Number 2 Paul: I really don’t like to have a debate on who has more frequency of rapes; as even a few rapes are enough for a country to be shame full as their system failed to protect an innocent woman or child. Whether it is the case of the 2012 Delhi gang rape on 16 December 2012; that have shocked the Indian Nation or the case of Mukhtara Main in Central Punjab, Pakistan. I also know that due to international media hate campaigns that were started form the day the two countries divided; Indian and Pakistani like to quarrel with each other on supremacy claims and don’t let any chance to humiliate each other. However I think we need to grow up as nations and learn from EU states or even US and UK considering their violent past. We need to understand that international powers don’t like us to work in harmony as this suite them business and power wise. They know our combine potential and are worried about that as well. Having said that I also need to keep the record straight for that I have done some online research and come up with some interesting facts and figures about rape that I like to share to keep us in perspective: According to these reports following are the top 10 countries with high incidence of rape; Indian is # 5 in this list: #1 United States: 95,136 #2 South Africa: 52,425 #3 Canada: 24,350 #4 Australia: 15,630 #5 India: 15,468 (43 rapes per day) #6 Mexico: 14,373 #7 United Kingdom: 13,395 #8 Germany: 8,615 #9 France: 8,458 #10 Russia: 6,978 #11 Korea, South: 6,139 #12 Peru: 5,968 #13 Spain: 5,664 #14 Zimbabwe: 5,567 #15 Thailand: 4,020 #16 Argentina: 3,036 #17 Venezuela: 2,931 #18 Italy: 2,543 #19 Belgium: 2,436 #20 Japan: 2,357 The report further said that Rape in India is one of India's most common crimes against women.[49] Marital rape that occurs when spouses are living together can only be dealt under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 which only provides civil remedies to victims (it is a form of non-criminal domestic violence). Marital rape is not a criminal offense, except when spouses are separated. Rape cases in India have doubled between 1990 and 2008[50] Penile and non-penile penetration in bodily orifices of a woman by a man, without the consent of the woman, constitutes the offense of rape under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.[51] Asian Center for Human Rights published a report on rape in India. I am sharing few content of this report for your review: 48,338 child rape cases from 2001 to 2011 with 336% increase of child rape cases from 2001 to 2011 - ACHR submits report on child sexual assault in India’s juvenile justice homes to the visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women - New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report, “India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes” stated that sexual offences against children in India have reached an epidemic proportion and a large number of them are being committed in the juvenile justice homes run and aided by the Government of India. The report has been submitted in advance to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo who is conducting an official visit to India from 22 April to 1 May 2013 while ACHR is scheduled to meet the Rapporteur on 23 April 2013. The 56-page report, citing National Crimes Record Bureau statistics, stated that a total of 48,338 child rape cases was recorded from 2001 to 2011 and India saw an increase of 336% of child rape cases from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases). These are only the tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to the police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too. So if you add the numbers of the two reports together it is coming to 11 child rapes per day + 43 adult rapes = 54 rapes per day in India i.e., almost every minute there is one rape in India. Here I also like to share the Statistics about Rapes in Pakistan: The group War Against Rape (WAR) has documented the severity of the rape problem in Pakistan and of police indifference to it.[1] WAR is an NGOwhose mission is to publicize the problem of rape in Pakistan; in a report released in 1992, of 60 reported cases of rape, 20% involved police officers. In 2008 the group claimed that several of its members were assaulted by a religious group as they tried to help a woman who had been gang raped identify her assailants.[2] According to Women's Studies professor Shahla Haeri, rape in Pakistan is "often institutionalized and has the tacit and at times the explicit approval of the state".[3] According to a study byHuman Rights Watch, there is a rape once every two hours[4] and a gang rape every eight.[5] Asma Jahangir, a lawyer and co-founder of the women's rights group Women's Action Forum, reported in a 1988 study of female detainees in Punjab that around 72 percent of them stated they had been sexually abused while in custody.[6] According to this report there are about 24 rapes per day in Pakistan Now before finishing I like to touch the subject of Sharia laws that you have mentioned. Paul as in India we have almost identical legislation that was left by our former rulers of British Empire. Pakistan is not governed through Islamic Sharia laws however in the days of former military dictator Zia ul Haq these courts were made to fool the nation that Islamic system is going to be the rule of law in Pakistan. Still Pakistan Supreme court is the supreme laws and I said they follow Pakistan Penal Court regulations similar to Indian Penal Court regulations. Having said all the above I request you to be part of the growing community of educated , open minded individuals who think that we are being used by our military and political Janta to keep on fighting each other so we could not be able to focus on their corruptions and in ability to deliver. Hope you take all my notes positively.

Posted by Khan on 2013-08-02 11:28:12 GMT

Sorry, anonymous, but your logic is as faulty as your grammar. While rape and violence against women does occur in India, there are no statistics to support your contention that such bestiality is more common in India than it is in Pakistan. Perhaps more importantly, Pakistan has the primitive shari'a based zina laws, which India, a secular nation does not. Moreover, these mysogynistic practices occur more frequently in mohammedan societies; please note the violence against women in Egypt and the rate of "honour" killing wherever there are mohammedans. That some societies accept that human life is less important than a family's honour, speaks of their primitivity and depravity. It highlights the difference between the civilised nations like Israel or Australia and savages who parade around pretending that they are those countries equals and presuming to teach them how to be more humane.

Posted by paul2 on 2013-07-31 10:41:56 GMT

The thinking describe and the incidence narrated is more common in India also in the regional countries. It doesn't link in any way with their religion. It is more on traditions.So a rationale approach should be taken while linking an incidence with the country other development.

Posted on 2013-07-31 09:18:47 GMT

The cruelty, the contempt for law, the hate for women, the twisted morality and the pretense of upholding religion is beyond belief. Is it with such people that anyone hopes to negotiate? The depravity of such people excludes them from even the most primitive society. That the authoritities take no action shows that such a society is unfit to be a member of the family of nations and certainly unfit to have nuclear weapons at its disposal. The international community erred grieviouly in persuading India not to crush Pakistan in major war they had before they got the bomb. They are playing the same cynical, cruel game in ignoring the threat of Iran.

Posted by paul2 on 2013-07-04 07:56:45 GMT