September 2, 2002 12:23 AM   Subscribe

Justice. Remember the case of the woman in rural Pakistan that was sentenced by a "tribal court" to be gang-raped? Four of the rapists and two of the tribal councillors were sentenced to death today for the crime. Some others were sentenced to life imprisonment. "There's nothing to celebrate," said the victim after hearing of the verdict. "Whatever punishment they got is because of their crime."
posted by laz-e-boy (28 comments total)
Not sure the punishment fits the crime here. Personally I would have welcomed a sentence in which all six men were simply forcibly sodomized themselves by volunteering and particularly savage inmates.

Or possibly forced to gangrape each other in turn at gunpoint. Either way, the current punishment seems a bit excessive and I have a feeling it's because of the international publicity this case has received (and strong desire on Pakistan's part to conform to Western expectations with the current suspicions of their harboring al Quaeda/other terrorists).
posted by Ryvar at 2:15 AM on September 2, 2002

Savagery begets savagery begets more savagery. Human animals killing and fucking one another everywhere you look. God, but I'm tired of it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:24 AM on September 2, 2002

hmm, yes. Well I don't know about you but if I found out a twelve year old was having an illicit relationship with a woman (defined in pakistan as having an age in double figures....most of the time) my first reaction would be to sodomize him.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:38 AM on September 2, 2002

Except that their definition of "illicit relationship" was the fact that he was from a lower caste and was actually seen walking in public with her.
posted by alrob at 5:09 AM on September 2, 2002

welcome to mefi where two wrongs do make a right.

(and did i get that right, johnnyboy - you want to sodomize 12 year old boys?)
posted by andrew cooke at 5:56 AM on September 2, 2002

This does seem a bit of overkill (he he he), but it also sends a message (to not use rape as a punishment) that i can't find any way to disagree with (is anyone really going to say that the original punishment was good).

I'm more interested in the fact that this seems a very specialized case (they keep on mentioning that it's a "terrorist court"), and i'm curious if the reason for the quick court case is for western PR or because the majority in pakistan DOES find something wrong with the punishment (i really hope the latter is true).
posted by NGnerd at 6:20 AM on September 2, 2002

Its none of our business and this story has no business other than lurid eyeball-gathering in the western media.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:55 AM on September 2, 2002

Oh, that's a constructive attitude, Fupped.

"Anti-terrorism courts were set up [in Pakistan] in 1997 to permit speedy trials of 'heinous crimes'".

And andrew: johnnyboy was clearly making a deadpan comment on Ryvar's advocacy of prisoner rape, about which we've already had numerous flamewars.

As for Pakistan, the educated urban Pakistanis were indeed shocked -- and internationally embarrassed -- by this. The English-language press carried numerous op-eds and letters to the editor, and has given unflinching coverage of the case. Trying this case at the federal level gave them an opportunity to ensure that they're not a nation of backward villagers meting out pre-biblical punishment, a motivation which is not unique to the current political situation -- though it probably wouldn't have gotten the attention it did without the war.
posted by dhartung at 8:09 AM on September 2, 2002

Yeah. We'll show those backward villagers how reprehensible it is to deliver harsh and brutal sentences. Surely six state-sanctioned deaths will prove that violence is not the answer. In all seriousness, I just don't see how this will help. These six guys? Yeah, what they did was utterly disgusting. And yeah, they'll do no more raping. But the tribal court system? Still rocking along fine while the world argues about this one incident, thankyouverymuch.
posted by hilatron at 8:53 AM on September 2, 2002

typical islamic law at work here! its about time these countries grew up and sorted out their social problems!
posted by JonnyX at 9:16 AM on September 2, 2002

JonnyX - what is typical islamic law then?
posted by niceness at 9:27 AM on September 2, 2002

What hilatron said... a woman got raped but now two of her rapists are going to die.

Ummm.... Yay? Why does this not seem to make me feel better?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:37 AM on September 2, 2002

Surely six state-sanctioned deaths will prove that violence is not the answer.

The point is not to prove that "violence is not the answer." The point is to prove that no matter how bad a motherfucker you think you are, the state is an even badder motherfucker.
posted by kindall at 9:40 AM on September 2, 2002

I understand the victim's desire for revenge, but wouldn't life imprisonment in a [cough] posh Pakistani prison have served just as well -- and probably stopped the cycle of violence?

Somewhat OT, but I found it strange that the captions in dhartung's BBC link don't name any of the brown-skinned people in its pictures, although brief explanations appear on mouseover. I assume this is partly to do with the Western convention of not naming rape victims, but come on. You show us *her mother*. The least you can do is have a caption that says, "The victim and her mother" instead of being ridiculously coy and only mentioning it on mouseover. Same goes for the lack of clear caption in the pic of some of the accused. I hope this little online journalism convention doesn't catch on.
posted by mediareport at 9:48 AM on September 2, 2002

The point is to prove that no matter how bad a motherfucker you think you are, the state is an even badder motherfucker.

I'm glad I don't live in a country where the state is a bad motherfucker.
posted by Summer at 11:21 AM on September 2, 2002

Unfortunately for your case, JonnyX, there's nothing in Islamic law to support the actions of the tribal leaders. It's more an example of clan and tribal justice the world over than anything reflecting on the limitations of shari'a law -- which are, to be sure, numerous.

This was in Punjab, not in the official "Tribal Areas", which are quasi-autonomous areas administered locally on traditional principles, not unlike US Indian reservations; but smaller jurisdictions along the same lines are found throughout Pakistan. The central government has long sought to bring them under firmer standards of law. The border tribal areas aren't even supposed to be entered by the federal army, except in emergency! Which has figured into the war and Qaeda/Taliban stragglers. It's likely that the intent of such swift and harsh sentencing has been sought by government authorities as partial excuse to continue their campaign chipping away against tribal jurisdiction. Also, no doubt Musharraf's desire to ingratiate himself with the middle class plays a role, since nominations for a reopened parliament have been in play.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 AM on September 2, 2002

Being a Pakistani, I totally support the verdict. They deserve no less than death. They used their power in the tribal justice system to mete out evil. I for one am happy to know they will meet with death sooner than later.

This should point out to all "panchayat" or "jirga" systems that they are allowed to solve their problems at their levels amongst themselves. But, it does not mean they can wreak heavoc on lives around them.

As mentioned above, the Anti-Terrorist courts were setup some time ago for speedy trials of mostly ethnic terrorism related cases.
posted by adnanbwp at 12:42 PM on September 2, 2002

Oh for Pete's sake. Not an advocacy of prisoner rape, but rather me trying to point out that while rape is a terrible crime, sentences are supposed to be about rehabilitation, not vengeance. At least in my Western view, which Pakistan may not and apparently does not share, which is fine. From the perspective of 'rehabilitation > *' however, killing them accomplishes nothing while letting them know how it feels does.

Killing them does set an example - but one of the things that makes the Western world seem civilized (to the scant extent it does) is the focus on justice for the individual, not the society. No matter how much some portions of it 'need to be taught a lesson' themselves.
posted by Ryvar at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2002

1. Rape should never be a punishment for anyone ever. Ever. Make that ok as a punishment for their crimes and you validate their use of rape as a punishment. Jesus. Ryvar, did you actually just make the argument that rape can be used to "rehabilitate?"

2. This is not primarily about sex. Read this version of the release and note that the prosecution claims that the boy was sodomized by the high-caste men. These men raped two people of a lower caste, and now they say they'll kill two low-caste people for every high-caste man hung.

This is about keeping the low-caste villagers in their place by sodomizing their children and gang-raping their women. It's part of an ongoing class struggle, and it's not that unusual.
posted by blissbat at 2:26 PM on September 2, 2002

I'm glad I don't live in a country where the state is a bad motherfucker.

Trust me, you do. Every state is the baddest motherfucker in its own domain. It's just that British citizens are now sufficiently docile (read "civilized") that the state no longer needs to demonstrate this fact to its own citizens on a regular basis. But if you read your history, you will find that the British have been bad motherfuckers indeed, easily as brutal as the Pakistani government is being in this case.
posted by kindall at 3:28 PM on September 2, 2002

The British state now, kindall, is very far from being a bad motherfucker, at least to its own people. To others - well that's a different matter, at least if President Blair gets his way.
posted by Summer at 3:59 PM on September 2, 2002

I'm not so sure whether the "rehabilitation" view applies here, Ryvar. The convicted people were acting on the orders and as part of a council which probably handed down its decision according to their system of values (one which apparently condones gang-rape punishments). The antiterrorism court's sentence had to make an impression on people in the area (the Mastoi, and other such tribes), to demonstrate that such a belief system is unacceptable, and the death sentence is far more effective at communicating this than, say, weekly therapy sessions. They're not dealing with individual criminals, they're dealing with an entire culture and a set of values.
posted by casarkos at 5:41 PM on September 2, 2002

So, although deplorable in our Western justice, the sentence was utilitarian: it helps prevent more of the same from happening. Perhaps, help break the tribal court systems for good. Although Pakistan won't evolve the one of the more merciful justice systems, in my opinion, I think the death penalty is more human than gang-rape.

So here I am, anti-death penalty, thinking what is the best the Pakistani courts can do?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:55 PM on September 2, 2002

That human should be humane. Alas, spell checker doesn't check for intent.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:56 PM on September 2, 2002

6 families are now in mourning because of this punishment. Not sure how this rights a wrong.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:26 PM on September 2, 2002

This story is the astronomical equivalent of a black-hole. The gradient is civilization.
posted by paleocon at 7:38 PM on September 2, 2002

Ryvar: "...sentences are supposed to be about rehabilitation..."

What? Sentences are about punishment, a payment to society for the damage you caused whilst committing your crime.

"...killing them accomplishes nothing..."

If you say so. It accomplishes plenty for me.

SpaceCadet: "6 families are now in mourning because of this punishment. Not sure how this rights a wrong."

Sometimes wrongs can't be righted. Life imprisonment doesn't right a wrong either. Violent destructive crime is often never righted, mended, reversed, etc. A stolen radio can be replaced. The pain and damage that rape and murder dish out lasts a lifetime, for the victims (should you survive) as well as the loved ones of those victims. Like the women said, there is nothing to celebrate here. I wouldn't even look for it in a case like this. Crime and punishment don't come with much fanfare and ticker-tape parades very often. I don't know why it ever should. The sooner the world disposes of evil like the criminals in this case the better.
posted by Witty at 1:10 AM on September 3, 2002

What is really sad is that the victim's life is still ruined-death penalty or not. She's now seen as a slut and used and no man will ever want her because rape is seen as her fault in that society. So now we have six dead men, a woman who did nothing but who's life is now worthless (because women's only reason to live there is to marry and have children) all for nothing. And then there's all the killings they are now talking about doing because of it.

Personally, I would love it if all rapists were killed. Slowly. But the rational side of my brain says that's not right. But if it were me who was gang raped for an hour by over a dozen men, I think death wouldn't be enough for me. No, not nearly enough. Not even close.
posted by aacheson at 12:12 PM on September 3, 2002

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