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Pakistan frees rapist after agreeing to marry victim; decision enrages human rights activists

A Pakistani court ordered the release of a rapist after he married his victim in a settlement mediated by a council of elders in the country's northwest, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

By wasmulhaq 
Updated Date

Peshawar: A Pakistani court ordered the release of a rapist after he married his victim in a settlement mediated by a council of elders in the country’s northwest, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

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Rights campaigners are unhappy with the judgement because they believe it legitimises sexual abuse against women in a nation where most rapes go unreported.

A lower court in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Buner district sentenced Dawlat Khan, 25, to life in jail in May for raping a deaf woman.

He was released from jail on Monday after the Peshawar High Court approved a settlement reached outside of court by the family of the rape victim. The victim and the rapist are from the same extended family.

He went on to say that both families reconciled and a deal was reached with the help of the neighbourhood jirga (traditional council).

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Khan was arrested because his victim delivered a child, and he was declared the child’s real father after a paternity test.

The Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, a group that offers legal aid to at-risk women, claims that less than 3% of cases that go to trial result in a conviction.

Due to the associated societal shame, few cases are recorded, and the poor conviction rates are partly a result of mistakes made during investigations, poor prosecutorial techniques, and out-of-court settlements.

According to lawyer and human rights activist Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, the Peshawar court ruling “is essentially the court’s approval of rape and facilitation of rapists and rape mindset.”

She told AFP that the law of the land, which does not recognise such an arrangement, and basic concepts of fairness are violated.

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The group tweeted, “Rape is a non-compoundable offence that cannot be rectified through a weak ‘compromise’ marriage.”

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