One suspect arrested in Pakistan highway gang-rape case

One suspect arrested in Pakistan highway gang-rape case

The case provoked a nationwide outcry in Pakistan after a police official seemed to blame the victim
The case provoked a nationwide outcry in Pakistan after a police official seemed to blame the victim because she was driving at night without a male companion AFP/Rizwan TABASSUM

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani authorities arrested a suspect Monday (Sep 14) in a gang-rape case that provoked a nationwide outcry after a police official seemed to blame the victim because she was driving at night without a male companion.

Hundreds of women took to the streets in cities across Pakistan last weekend to protest after a woman was raped in front of her two children after her car ran out of fuel near the eastern city of Lahore.

Punjab province Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said one of the two suspects in the case, Shafqat Ali, had been arrested.

"His DNA has matched, and he has confessed to the crime", Buzdar said in a tweet.

READ: Pakistani police hunt for gang rape suspects as protests held across country

READ: Pakistanis outraged by gang rape of mother along major highway

A senior police official confirmed the arrest, adding that a manhunt was ongoing for the second suspect.

Following last week's incident, Lahore police chief Umar Sheikh faced an angry backlash and calls for his resignation after suggesting the rape was at least partially the victim's fault.

Sheikh apologised Monday.

Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute in Pakistan, where women are often treated as second-class citizens.

Legal expert Osama Malik told AFP the rape conviction rate can be as low as two percent.

"This drops even lower in cases where a minor has been raped. That is one of the reasons that rape is rarely reported", he said.

Malik also blamed the societal stigma attached to sex crimes and the "abhorrently misogynistic attitude" of many police officials for the underreporting of rape cases.

Lapses during the collection of forensic evidence and shoddy prosecutorial practices also contribute towards "abysmal" conviction rates, he added.

Source: AFP/nh

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