Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: In yet another shocking portrayal of patriarchal injustice in Pakistan, three men stripped a woman in the Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to avenge her husband's alleged liaison with their sister.
The harrowing incident took place on July 6 and the police hesitantly registered the FIR under Section 354 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) with no mention of stripping, reported The Express Tribune.
The armed men intercepted her while she was returning from a wedding ceremony. They assaulted her in a "revenge attack" and fled, leaving the woman naked in the middle of a street full of onlookers.
Section 354 is generally invoked in an "assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty".
"Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both," the section reads.
However, the practice of forcing women to 'compensate' for the misdeeds committed by men appears to be pervasive in the district with similar incidents becoming more rampant in the absence of strong law enforcement. This is the second incident of its kind in the district, reported The Express Tribune.
In 2018, a girl was stripped and paraded naked on the city outskirts. The main accused had escaped and police failed to arrest him for a long time. The culprit surrendered to the police after more than a year. However, both the parties later reached a compromise and all the seven accused were pardoned.
A local resident said that he feared not mentioning the stripping and including Section 354 in the FIR was a deliberate tactic used to obfuscate the complexity of the matter, adding that it was "akin to killing two birds with one stone as it downplays the gravity of the incident. Now there will be little or no outcry in the media", reported The Express Tribune.
He said the trend in the district was flourishing, adding it was deplorable that women had to pay for the wrongdoings of their husbands or other men of the family.
Rights activist and lawyer Zeenat Muhib Kaka Khel said she believes that stripping can also be covered in Section 345 PPC along with other offenses.
"The FIR registered under Sections 354 of PPC and 506/34 are relevant sections under which the case can be further looked into to punish the accused," said Khel.