"Boy's walk with upper caste girl led to trial and punishment"
July 4, 2002 3:32 PM   Subscribe

"Boy's walk with upper caste girl led to trial and punishment"
From the newspaper article that is scanned and posted on the blog:

The girl was raped by four men as hundreds of villagers stood outside laughing and cheering, and was then forced to return home naked while dozens of villagers watched.

The sentence was ordered to shame the family after the girl's younger brother was seen walking unchaperoned with a girl from a higher-class tribe.

posted by PWA_BadBoy (35 comments total)
I'm really sorry but the fact that this kind of crap still happens nowadays really angers me. It's one thing to have rape as a violent crime, it's another when the judge and society declares the rape as a punishment. If someone has a better link, please feel free to post it.

From the looks of the article, it seems to be from the National Post.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:33 PM on July 4, 2002

Wow, I really should have looked a little harder before posting. Here's the article online.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:34 PM on July 4, 2002

*is ill*
posted by dabitch at 3:40 PM on July 4, 2002

As glad as I am that the upper courts are arresting those responsible and involved, the fact that the entire village cheered and laughed is just unreal.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:52 PM on July 4, 2002

Salmonberry : As astounding as it is, I don't think most of us have any idea of the culture difference there is between us here in the West and these backward people. I'm interested to know what some of the Pakistani MeFi'ers (??) can add to this. Also you'd be very surprised at the power of mob mentality.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:59 PM on July 4, 2002

You know, I suspect that there's an enormous difference between the Tribal law as applied in the hills and the law as applied in the metro areas like Karachi, Islamabad, etc, The reactions of the elites there, inc. the law officers, journalists, govt. ministers, [Pakistan's chief justice launched an investigation==Asef Hayyat, Punjab's deputy inspector-general of police, said the leading officer at the local police station had been suspended==Rana Ijaz, the Punjab government's Law Minister, was among officials who visited the village and promised a full investigation and assistance to the victim's family
etc...] is NOT one of callous indifference or support for the punishment - else we would not have heard about it.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:11 PM on July 4, 2002

[..] between us here in the West and these backward people.

Gee, who said racism was dead?
posted by wackybrit at 4:26 PM on July 4, 2002

the culture difference there is between us here in the West and these backward people

Be careful where you're going with that generalization. If "the West" includes Latin America and Eastern Europe, I know I can easily come up with a slew of examples to complement this one. Here's one from two days ago.

As dash-slot says, this is more about Tribal law or the law of Frontiers (including the American Wild West) where justice is meted out locally, if at all, and can often descend into barbarism.
posted by vacapinta at 4:30 PM on July 4, 2002

Racism, absolutely, hear hear. After all, all we can conclude from this story is that every culture is as good as every other culture and that any other judgment makes you racist.

Look, I'll drop the sarcasm. PWA's statement is poorly phrased, but what are we supposed to say about cultures that sanction this sort of thing? That they're ethically challenged? Or just different? Or should we atomize and subdivide the relevant cultural sphere until we reach the point that we can talk about only the individuals involved, and remain silent on what sort of cultural domain generates this sort of vile behavior?

I don't gain any sense of privelege or inflated pride in the idea I live in better culture than the one that would generate these sorts of atrocities. But I do acknowledge it.
posted by argybarg at 4:34 PM on July 4, 2002

Sure, it might seem like disrespectful and nasty behavior, but hey, we're no angels in the West. Our society packs many citizens like sardines into 30 storey tall boxes, makes them work their guts out for little pay, and our emotionless society even forces many people to take drugs, commit suicide.. we have plenty of 12 year old prostitutes out there too.

Sure, we shouldn't be condoning what they do, but perhaps more of us should realize we're not much better ourselves. We just go about our cruelty in a different way.
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 PM on July 4, 2002

Geez, I totally didn't mean it to sound racist. I meant West as in industrialized nations. And the reference to Pakistani people I meant as people of Pakistani origin who perhaps are closer to this kind of news and would have a better understanding of whether this kind of thing happens regularly and what the standard practice is etc. etc.

But I think we can safely say that we live in a slightly more humane environment where our justice system doesn't make rape an out and out punishment (although given our current prison systems.... but that's a different discussion altogether)
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 5:15 PM on July 4, 2002

And when I referred to "backwards people", I meant the people of these tribal communities who dish out their justice in such a manner, and not to all Pakistani people in general.

If I was misinterpreted, I apologize profusely.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 5:17 PM on July 4, 2002

Thanks for your honesty, PWA_BadBoy.

"... the culture difference there is between us here in the West and these backward people. I'm interested to know what some of the Pakistani MeFi'ers (??) can add to this. Also you'd be very surprised at the power of mob mentality".
That last part, in bold, reminded me of the mob mentality in New Orleans when a single girl was multiply assaulted by a mob.

[sarcasm]...but then, that's in the South, and we all know what that's like...[/sarcasm]
posted by dash_slot- at 5:41 PM on July 4, 2002

...society packs... makes them work... even forces many...

Watch your verbs there, wackybrit. Our society doesn't force anybody to do any of those things. It allows them to do them, because most of us want to in order to better our quality of life. You don't wanna work in a box, you don't have to. How nice is that? Or are you complaining that food, shelter, and modern quality of life do not spring from the void spontaneously?

perhaps more of us should realize we're not much better ourselves. We just go about our cruelty in a different way.

No, we don't. We are better. Cultures are not all created equal, and that fact that there are some things wrong with ours does not automatically equate us with the basest and most cruel of the alternatives.
posted by tirade at 6:15 PM on July 4, 2002

"It was a shocking incident in the 21st century and a blatant violation of human rights as well as human dignity," said Sheik Riaz Ahmed, Pakistan's senior Supreme Court judge.

The judges and society have not condoned this. A very small tribe in a forgotten corner of the country pulled this off: their "local court" is not a sanctioned legal court.

It is little different than the dragging-death administered by a bunch of racist bastards in Texas.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on July 4, 2002

You can't "do anything about" the mores of other cultures.

But man... fuck that shit.
posted by scarabic at 6:50 PM on July 4, 2002

Can we please clean up these badly phrased front page posts? It's clear Pakistani society was just as horrified by these events as any other society, and some of the subsequent links in this thread reinforce the fact that this sort of action and reaction is fairly universal. People who just jump desultory conclusions ARE being racist.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:08 PM on July 4, 2002

We're not much better ourselves? I beg to differ. I can of course only speak for my own behaviour and that of those who I feel are worth associating with.
posted by clevershark at 7:32 PM on July 4, 2002

Bad news: that something like this happened in this day and age.

Good news: that the Pakistani officials (law system, cops, etc) and clueful society, as well as the larger world hearing this story, are aghast and horrified and committed to stopping this sort of awful thing from happening, and bringing the guilty to justice.

As horrible as it is, I see the publicity and so on as helping to eradicate the problem, to shine a light on the brutality and point out that many Pakistanis are horrified, too.

In other words, I see the glass as half full. The fact that we can see *progress in a positive direction* is what I choose to focus on, myself. Yes, it's a looooong road. But at least it seems Pakistan is pointed in the right direction on this one.

The path from brutality and horror to civilization and enlightenment is a long, hard one. Our culture (westernish europeanish is what I'm getting at) has made great strides, which *always* come at great cost (industrial revolution, anyone?).

No, I'm not pretending that we're completely there yet - I don't think you can point to *any* culture on this planet that has managed to completely eradicate brutality and injustice. (If you can, I'd like to know - I'll bet we can learn a lot from them).

The hope is that somehow, we learn how to be a better helper and colleague when sharing our wisdom with other cultures to raise the standard of living, reduce poverty, increase education, and in general foster the well-being of humanity and nature, collectively and individually.

This poor unfortunate girl suffered, and she suffered greatly, and in a way that no one should ever have to suffer.

But as a result, the word is spreading, and I think (and hope) that fewer girls and women will have the same fate in the future. That is a Good Thing.

Maybe someday, we can reduce the number of people who are treated so barbarically to zero. I dream of that day, though I don't believe I'll see it myself...
posted by beth at 8:03 PM on July 4, 2002

It's clear Pakistani society was just as horrified by these events as any other society, and some of the subsequent links in this thread reinforce the fact that this sort of action and reaction is fairly universal.

Yes and no. In retrospect, we clearly have no reason to pass judgement on the national culture and society of Pakistan based on the events in this link. However, I do feel just fine in condemning the culture of smaller tribal societies in which women (both the victim and the punished) are property which can be damaged (deflowered and thus devalued) or used (sexually) to repay a debt. Remember that this was the local authority and apparently almost the entire tribe that devised the stupid crime and the unbelievable punishment.

Had three men simply raped the girl on their own because she was lower classed and they assigned her no human value, this would be like the car draggings in the US. Likewise, if an entire southern town had tried a man for being black, convicted him, and then dragged him behind a police cruiser down mainstreet at speed while the town cheered on. In such a hypothetical, as in the real incident in Pakistan, we would be right to criticize and find fault with the self-contained society responsible.

So could we stop tossing the word "racist" around like it was a fucking frisbee?
posted by tirade at 8:06 PM on July 4, 2002

I think tirade has a really good point (that is, if I'm understanding the point correctly)....

There is much to be learned from understanding how cruelty can persist among *groups* of people, not just in *individual human minds*.

I mean, we need to understand how this works, so we can combat it. In some ways we know a bit already - education is our best weapon so far. But we could do so much better.

We need something like an antibiotic for this crap. (crap = the idea that hurting other people who have done no wrong is okay)

Personally, I look at this from a perspective many would consider strange. I see it as essentially a science of the ecology of memetics, understanding how ideas take root in human minds and persist and replicate and so on.

I think focusing on "bad" people is not as fruitful a tactic as focusing on "bad" ideas, and figuring out how to replace them with "good" ideas. (Yeah, this takes generations sometimes to do effectively).

I'll shut up for the moment.
posted by beth at 8:15 PM on July 4, 2002

What annoys me, if I may, is the inability, both in those who point and shout with indignation 'barbarians' and in those who say 'oh dear, now that's racist, you mustn't judge, you naughty boy'.

The hell with both groups.

What continues to both astonish and sadden me is how the folks in both of these opposing groups ignore the equally foul, inhuman, and insupportable things, not far removed in any significant way, that continue to happen in their own, oh-so-civilized back yards, whether they be American, Canadian, whatever.

Shit like this happened in my home town in Canada when I was growing up, if not for the same reasons precisely, and still does.

Wipe your own noses, you sanctimonious bastards, before you point at the snot running out of others'.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on July 4, 2002

All right, stavros, I'll take your bait:

I don't have snot running out of my nose.

You may have some tortuous logic by which I'm really a rapist or oppressor, but I don't buy it.

It's just collegiate sophistry -- Christ, can't anyone see through it? -- this idea that we're all guilty, that when any atrocity happens we all share the blame. It just sounds so ... deep, it seems impossible that it could be horseshit, right? It's a favorite pastime of college sophomores, to rear up in disbelief that anyone would be so simplistic as to believe that there are good guys and bad guys -- isn't despair and paradox and weltschmerz so much more sophisticated?

I think, a lot, about what Alastair Cooke wrote right after Robert Kennedy's death:

I still cannot rise to the general lamentations about a sick society. I for one do not feel like an accessory to a crime, and I reject almost as a frivolous obscenity the sophistry of collective guilt, the idea that I, or the American people, killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy. I don't believe either that you conceived Hitler and that in some deep, unfathomable sense all Europe was responsible for the extermination of six million Jews. With Edmund Burke, I do not know how you can indict a whole nation. To me this now roaringly fashionable theme is a great folly.

It continues to be roaringly fashionable. No matter.
posted by argybarg at 1:02 AM on July 5, 2002

I think I take a lot of flack by using broad generalizations in my initial posts here and stirring a pot that I never intended to stir.

I guess my idea of "the West" being Chinese-Canadian and having grown up in relatively culturally diverse and relatively metropolitan areas, I've been shielded from a lot of the racism and discrimination. Or at least the people who live in my community have learned to be considerably more tolerant and value the rights of other people.

The links pointed out are a definite indication that "the West" isn't quite as utopian as I had believed it to be. Yet, I still believe that we as a society generally (yes generalizing again) do hold higher social values on people's lives and the rights that they have as individuals.

Yes racism still exists. Yes there are hate crimes. Yes there are probably pockets of extremely racist communities that still dish out their own "village justice" which I suppose you could very well parallel to my linked article. But like beth has said, we've made some pretty big strides to do away with the negativity. Slavery, segregation -- has been mostly done away with.

And we as a larger society look down very unfavorably upon this kind of behaviour. We punish those who don't respect other people's rights and freedoms to live - or at least try to. And that's the best we can do, I guess. Hopefully the same happens over there.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 2:06 AM on July 5, 2002

Well said, both of you. I'd never try to claim that there aren't good guys and bad guys. My point, if I have one, is that there are bad guys everywhere. No less in the 'west' than the 'east' or the north than the south, or anything else.

People are mostly brutal, any way you cut it, when push comes to shove. I've seen too much of it, all over this planet, first-hand, to think otherwise.

That said, humans can also be seraphic, immaculate, neato and swell, when they have the luxury (and, aye, perhaps that's the rub right there) to do so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 AM on July 5, 2002

I remain cynical, Stavros. There are wealthy people who have "luxury," yet are complete bastards, beating the shit out of whomever their wives, hiring hitmen, or causing destruction in the name of greater personal wealth.

We are but cavemen dressed up in a suit. Beneath a thin veneer of cerebrum and culture, we're a primitive animal. If it weren't for our wired-in need for co-operative social structures, we'd rip each other's throats out.

Thank goodness our social structures have, over the millennia, incorporated more and more people. Our organized violence has become grander: we've progressed from caveman clans bashing each other, to nations bashing each other. This is a good thing, overall, as it indicates that perhaps one day, we'll be a truly global society and will have no need to bash any group of people.

And even then, the human animal remains seething beneath the surface of our civility, ready to prey on any weakness. We are only as refined as we make ourselves: those without self-control will always be as animals.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2002

You know, gang rape is a common way of enforcing cultural sanctions in tribal societies. It's a feature of most South American Indian cultures. In those societies, it's an element in maintaining the balance of psychic power between the sexes, operating on some kind of Freudian level. See Robert and Yolanda Murphy's study of the Mundurucu Indians of Brazil, "Women of the Forest" for a more detailed discussion. But we are dealing with an immemorial practice here, that seems to help hold those societies together -- and may be one of the reasons tribal people abandon traditional culture the moment any alternative appears.
posted by Faze at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2002

To give some context for this story (which is not hard to find on the wires):

This incident occurred in Punjab, which is a province mostly governed by modern principles, but there are vast swathes of the country that are constitutional tribal areas -- so lawless the Pakistani government has much difficulty enforcing its authority there. In early days of the war, the government even had to ask permission of tribal leaders before deploying the army along the border -- later Musharraf overruled that as the coordinated operations with the US began. Frequent plans to tame the tribal areas have been mooted but only recently due to the war and Musharraf's undemocratic rule has the central government made progress. At worst, an unregulated slave trade continues.

In any case, to Pakistan's credit, authorities are cracking down on the rape case, which has indeed shocked at least the urbane middle class. It's interesting to read the details in that locally-sourced article; there was disagreement even in the jirga (council) that made the decision, with a walk-out by the overruled faction. Police who apparently tacitly permitted the rape are being reassigned. News that didn't make it out: the offending boy may have been sodomized himself; investigation has been inconclusive. Meanwhile, yesterday the supreme court heard the case, even as tribal assistance seems to shield the participants and frustrate police dragnets.
posted by dhartung at 8:30 AM on July 5, 2002

"Sure, it might seem like disrespectful and nasty behavior, but hey, we're no angels in the West."

Ok, being a Pakistani myself, I felt disgust and horror at reading the news. There is a huge uproar in the Pakistani society at the moment, because we as a nation feel that there has been lot of times when we have let a small minority damage our world wide image.

I feel more worried because this incident did not happen in some frontier town as I think is the generalization in this forum. This happened in Meerawala located in the province of Punjab. Now traditionaly Punjab has always led the fight against feudalism and for modernization.

In a village judicial system, the higher authority rests with a group of people. These people are supposed to be the older, wiser part of the village. Nowadays, they try to add a couple of more educated members of the village too. But economics has always lent its part. And there has always been a heavyhanded participation of the richest land owners. It is like a small UN. If the big, rich guy has a problem, the "Punch-a-yet" or the village court gets together and finds a solution. By the looks of it, it seems that the Punchayet was bullied into this. Any justice system will be as just as the moral standing of the judges.

I hope all those involved get death sentences, because rape is such a shameful act may it be a solo act or that of a gang.
posted by adnanbwp at 8:52 AM on July 5, 2002

We are but cavemen dressed up in a suit.
Again, I must urge you to speak for yourself. The idea that one can go around excusing any behaviour simply because of things like "mob mentality" or "peer pressure" is idiotic at best.

Whatever side of that sociological debate you are on, I know that it is wrong to rape, whether some old man is authorizing it or not. I know that it is wrong to break into a store and steal the goodies inside just because my neighbor is doing it. If I were to witness these things being done in large numbers, I would be just as disgusted as if it were only one person doing them.

Sadly society (in general) seems to be on a kick of excusing every sort of criminal behaviour simply because they are the fashion of the day. As a result we end up with things like 9/11, like the massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia, like the homicide bombings in Israel... I could go on, but that would be pointless. At the heart of every one of these things, we have individuals choosing to disregard axiomatic values of right and wrong, of life and death, etc. so that they can be 'part of a crowd' or fulfill some 'higher teaching'.

Fortunately in this case we are seeing the perpetrators of the act being brought to trial, but frankly this case is in the minority of such things. Perhaps things will change in time, but most often it seems that the human race is going the other way with this sort of aberrations.
posted by clevershark at 9:03 AM on July 5, 2002

I hope all those involved get death sentences, because rape is such a shameful act may it be a solo act or that of a gang.

I am probably one of the few people on MetaFilter who completely agree with you on this issue.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:09 PM on July 5, 2002

I've never understood why rape isn't a capital (death penalty) crime myself...
posted by owillis at 7:59 PM on July 5, 2002

One of the rapists has now been caught.

I imagine he'll be promptly removed from society. Unlike, say, those sorts of scum that drag people to death in Texas.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2002

I've never understood why rape isn't a capital (death penalty) crime myself...

Who makes most law? Who commits most rape?

Enough said.
posted by Dreama at 7:54 PM on July 6, 2002

Enough said.


I've already mentioned to you, Dreama, how I feel about rape, but to say that rape does not receive capital punishment because men make most laws? Try your conspiracy theory at the next NOW meeting; you'll have better company.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:40 PM on July 6, 2002

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