Pakistani women sentenced with rape

Women are punished with abduction, rape and murder for resisting childhood marriages.

Published November 22, 2005 7:20PM (EST)

Feministing pointed me to this piece from today's Telegraph about five female cousins who have been "sentenced" to abduction, rape and/or murder by a village council in Pakistan. The women's punishments were handed down after they refused to follow through on childhood "marriages," performed "by a mullah in their Punjabi village to illiterate sons of their family's enemies in 1996, when they were aged from six to 13."

According to the Telegraph, the marriages were brokered at gunpoint as part of an agreement between feuding families. The families of the men have now "called in their 'debt,' demanding the marriages to the village men [be] fulfilled."

The fathers of the women have refused to hand them over, "leading to the resumption of the blood feud, with two relatives shot recently and 20 people arrested." The village council has also sentenced the women's fathers to death.

The Telegraph reports that the case is bringing to the fore tensions between traditional Pakistani tribal culture and modern women. The eldest of the five women is reportedly earning a degree in English literature.

The five women have vowed to commit suicide if forced to fulfill the terms of their marriages.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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