Pakistan police have arrested eight men on suspicion that they stripped a 16-year-old girl naked and marched her through their village in revenge for her brother allegedly damaging their family “honor” by engaging in an illicit relationship with one of their female relatives.
The head of the local police station was relegated to routine work during an investigation into the teen’s claims that he told her what to say and changed her original statement.
“I was threatened by the police which is why I couldn’t say what had happened to me before. I was forced to say things that I didn’t want to,” the GEO news website quoted the girl as saying in a second recorded statement.
She said the investigating officer hurled abuse and kept her mother from being involved in the original statement, threatening that cases would be registered against her brother and other relatives if the teen pursued the matter.
“When I started recording my statement, the police officer didn’t write it correctly. Instead, he wrote only what he wanted to,” the teen said.
Politicians and activists have protested the handling of the incident, which occurred the morning of October 27 when she was fetching water in Dera Ismail Khan, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The girl said she was paraded around the village naked for an hour in accordance with a ruling by the local Jirga, which operates outside Pakistan’s legal system in some matters.
The prime suspect is still being sought. Provincial Police Chief Salahuddin Mehsud denied reports that police are under pressure but told VOA’s Deewa service they are investigating the case very carefully because of the local political dynamics that have come into play in the aftermath of the case. He denied reports that an influential politician is “protecting” the suspect.
Domestic abuse, economic discrimination and acid attacks make Pakistan the world's third-most-dangerous country for women, a 2011 Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll showed.
Hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan every year at the hands of relatives over perceived damage to family "honor" that can involve eloping, fraternizing with men or any other infraction against conservative values. Some are punished for the activities of male relatives. Others have been injured in acid attacks.