A jirga (village council) in a suburb of the central city of Multan had ordered the rape of the 16-year-old girl as a punishment after her brother sexually assaulted a 12-year-old.
The 12-year-old’s brother — now in custody — approached the village council to complain about the attack, naming his cousin as the culprit.
In response, the council ordered the brother to rape the sister of the accused in return — an order which was carried out, according to police.
“Both the parties had filed cases of rape against each other at the local police station after the incident that happened last week,” local police official Allah Baksh told AFP Wednesday.
Both the girls are now staying in a woman’s shelter and were due to meet the provincial chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the prime minister, later Thursday.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has also ordered an investigation into the incident.
Jirgas, or village councils formed of local elders, are a traditional means of settling disputes in Pakistan’s rural areas, where courts and lawyers are not always accessible or trusted.
But such councils are illegal and have been under fire for their controversial decisions, especially regarding women.
A jirga was involved in one of South Asia’s most infamous cases of sexual violence against women when, in 2002, it ordered the gang rape of a woman called Mukhtar Mai after her brother was falsely accused of rape.
Mai made the unusual decision to defy her rapists and take them to court. Her attackers walked free but she went on to become a high-profile women’s rights activist.
Her story inspired an opera, “Thumbprint”, which opened in New York in 2014 and premiered in Los Angeles last month.
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