A young woman in Pakistan was gang-raped on a moving train by three men after being lured into a first-class carriage by the ticket inspector, sparking calls for the group to be hanged. This once again puts the spotlight on Pakistan's poor record with women's rights and how rape has become random in the South Asian nation.
According to Pakistan's Railway Ministry, three men, one of whom was a ticket checker, were accused of raping the woman, a 25-year-old mom of two, while she was traveling from Karachi to Multan in Pakistan's Punjab state last week. The incident has sparked widespread protests across the nation.
The ticket checker reportedly offered the young mother of two an upgrade from her economy class seat to an air-conditioned compartment during the 500-mile journey. The woman didn't understand his intentions and fell into the trap.
Once inside, the ticket inspector and three other guys allegedly raped her one by one before threatening her with death if she attempted to flee. However, the woman somehow managed to flee after being raped multiple times. She then went to the police and reported the incident.
However, it took the police a long time to trace the alleged rapists as the suspects fled to "far-flung areas of Punjab" in the hours after the attack in the hopes of escaping arrest, Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, reported.
Finally, two of the accused were arrested on Monday, at least three days after the incident. The third suspect was arrested only on Tuesday.
The security and administration of the Bahauddin Zakaria Express, which travels from Multan to Karachi, Pakistan's largest metropolis, is said to be in the hands of a private firm, according to local reports.
Sparking Nationwide Outrage
A medical investigation of the mother revealed she had been gang-raped, according to officials. The incident has sparked outrage in the 220 million-strong democracy, which has a terrible track record in defending women's rights and routinely makes headlines for brutal acts of gender-based violence and sexual assault.
One man told state broadcaster Geo: "I wish to see those behind this cruel act hanged by their throats." An editorial in Dawn branded the crime "ghastly" and demanded answers over the lack of security on the train.
Over 5,200 women were raped in Pakistan in 2021, according to the Human Rights Commission, but experts believe the true number is far higher because many victims are afraid to come forward due to societal shame and victim-blaming in the patriarchal society.
According to the Karachi-based non-profit War Against Rape, less than 3 percent of sexual assault or rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction, according to Reuters.
In December 2020, the country's rape statute was strengthened, establishing special tribunals to hear cases in four months and giving medical examinations to women within six hours of filing a complaint.
The changes were made in reaction to widespread public outrage about an increase in rapes against women in the country, as well as mounting calls for justice.
Rights groups, on the other hand, slammed the measure, urging authorities to focus on the source of the problem. Chemical castration, according to Amnesty International, is a "cruel and inhuman" punishment.
Activists claim Pakistan continues to fail its women despite the recent toughening of anti-rape laws. Domestic abuse is not criminalized in the country, leaving many people susceptible to assault.