The panchayat believes that the woman had an illicit relationship with her cousin -- allegation shot down by the woman in question. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
The woman said the panchayat refused to listen to her claim that she was raped by her cousin at gunpoint
A 19-year-old woman has been sentenced to death by village elders in Pakistan's Punjab province for allegedly having an illicit relationship with her cousin after she accused him of raping her at gunpoint.
The incident happened on Friday in Rajanpur, a rural district about 400 kilometres from provincial capital Lahore.
Shumaila escaped from the village after she came to know of the panchayat's decision and reported the matter to police.
She has denied having any illicit relationship with her cousin Khalil Ahmed and alleged that he raped her at gunpoint when she was sleeping at her house.
"I could not raise an alarm as Ahmed was holding a gun.
But the panchayat refused to accept my statement and declared that I wilfully slept with him," she told the police.
She said the panchayat did not take action against Ahmed.
Fearing for her life, she approached the police yesterday.
"We have registered an FIR against the panchayat members and will take them into custody for declaring her kaari (liable to death either by stoning or else)," Hasnain said.
The SHO of Fazilpur Police Station, Qaisar Hasnain, said Shumaila's father said in a statement that he was forced to accept the panchayat's decision.
"Since the panchayat declared her liabale to be killed he had to accept the decision as it was the tradition of his village," he said.
The police has sent Shumaila to a government safe house for women in Rajanpur.
"Honour" killings and death sentences are usually sanctioned through the panchayat system in Pakistani villages, but they have no legal standing.