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Pakistan rape suspect confesses to crime as DNA matches

AFP/Lahore
Filed on September 14, 2020 | Last updated on September 14, 2020 at 06.42 pm
Rape suspect, crime against women
Members of the Women Democratic Front during a protest in Islamabad against the rape on a deserted highway in Lahore.

(AP)

A manhunt is under way for the second suspect.

Authorities arrested a suspect on Monday 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.

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 on Monday.

Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute in the country.

Legal expert Osama Malik said the rape conviction rate can be as low as two per cent.

"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 under-reporting of rape cases.

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


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