Pakistani Teen Who Was Gang-Raped Sets Self on Fire, Dies from Burns

17 year old Amina Bibi set herself on fire outside a police station in Muzzaffargarh, in the Punjab region of Pakistan. She did so after being kidnapped at gunpoint and gang raped by 5 men. The police initially investigated, but later released the suspects without charging them. 

She was kidnapped by five armed men while she was walking home from college on January 5. Her brother, Ghulam Shabir, who was with her at the time of the kidnapping, told Reuter, "she was already depressed after going through the trauma, but after the release of the accused, she lost all hope of getting justice and set herself on fire."

Rape and other forms of gender violence are very common in Pakistan. Polygamy, wife-beating, and marital rape are all endemic. Last week the Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises the government on how to make sure that laws comply with Sharia, issued a ruling that laws preventing child marriage are un-islamic. It also called for polygamy to be made possible without requiring the consent of existing wives.

Accurate statistics are hard to obtain, because of the culture of silence that surrounds the issue. Police corruption also plays a role, it is difficult to bring cases to court, and prove guilt. The pervasive honor culture also means that women who are raped are often shamed and treated as sullied after they are raped. They are sometimes killed due to the perceived dishonor that their rape has brought upon their families.

However, there are efforts to combat the problem. Police spokesman Chaudry Asghar said "We have suspended the investigation officer, Rana Zulfiqar, and placed him in detention."

The case is being re-opened and the Supreme Court of Pakistan has demanded an explanation. They have ordered both the provincial police chief and the district police chief to appear before the Supreme Court to explain themselves.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan made a statement saying "Amina's sacrifice has exposed the ordeals that rape victims in the country face when they try to bring their tormentors to justice" They have demanded that the government take steps to combat Pakistan's rape problem.

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