A Pakistani rape victim whose abuse was allegedly filmed and the content sold to online pornographic websites. (Courtesy: Arshad Mehmood)

Serial Rape Case Shocks Pakistan

 A couple is in custody for selling rape videos to online sites

[Islamabad] Pakistani police have arrested a Rawalpindi man and his wife for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping and rape of underage female students. The couple is alleged to have recorded videos of the acts and sold them to online pornography sites.

Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital Islamabad, is the garrison city of Pakistan. They are commonly known as the twin cities.

The Media Line talked with Rawalpindi’s top cop, Deputy Inspector General of Punjab Police Muhammed Faisal Rana, who confirmed the arrest of the suspects, Qasim Jahangir and his wife Kiran Qasim.

Faisal Rana confirmed the couple was detained on suspicion of kidnapping and raping some 45 underage girls.

The deputy inspector general also said that the laptop, hard disc, and two mobile phones used by the accused were sent for forensic analysis to confirm the suspects’ links to the pornographic websites where the videos were uploaded. Bed sheets, tissue paper and other evidence were sent for DNA testing and analysis to the Pakistan Forensic Science Agency in Lahore.

Faisal Rana said that acts as heinous as these might carry two motives: blackmailing the victims’ families as a cash grab, or supplying videos to international sex traders. Forensic examination of the computer would offer more information, he noted.

The deputy inspector general voiced assurance that no clemency would be given in such a brutal case, and that victims’ families had been encouraged to launch individual complaints against the couple.

The Media Line spoke exclusively with one alleged victim, Sumbal Jamil, a Master’s student of economics at Allama Iqbal Open University. On the evening of the incident as she left the university, a veil-covered female posing as a student offered Jamil a ride home. A car pulled up, and the veiled girl introduced the driver as her brother. Jamil was suddenly pushed into the car and driven away at knifepoint.

After being taken to a bungalow and raped while videoed and photographed, Jamil said that the woman contacted someone online and negotiated a large sum for the sale of the recorded material. Jamil tearfully related that the couple threatened to murder her family if she revealed to anyone what had taken place. The male suspect drove her home approximately three hours after the crime began.

Rawalpindi Police Spokesperson Syed Baqar Hamdani told The Media Line that an investigation was launched when Jamil filed a complaint at City Police Station. After receiving the report, Rawalpindi Police raided a Gulistan Colony house, arresting Qasim and his wife on charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the female student while filming the scene on mobile phone cameras.

The police opened a case against the couple under sections 376 and 365 of Pakistan Penal Code. The accused appeared in court where they were both identified by the victim. The judge sent the female defendant to Adiala Jail on 14 days of judicial remand and ordered four days of police custody of the male, the spokesperson added. Qasim has since been imprisoned pending trial.

On condition of anonymity, an official associated with the interrogation team told The Media Line that the accused rapist confessed that other underage females had been abducted and raped at Gulistan Colony, including a sixth-grader. Due to deeply ingrained social structures, a majority of victims is unwilling to approach police, according to investigators.

As such, if a victim’s family refuses to step forward and go on record, the State of Pakistan will serve as plaintiff in these cases.

Affan Iftekhar, a high court lawyer and senior member of the Rawalpindi District Bar, told The Media Line that a criminal law amendment in section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code was passed in 2016 in an effort to toughen rape penalties. The new statute established the death penalty or life imprisonment for the rape of a minor. As per section 365 of the code, the penalty for kidnapping, abduction, or wrongful confinement is up to seven years, he added.

Rawalpindi Police Spokesperson Syed Baqar Hamdani told The Media Line that due to the sensitivity of the matter, the Rawalpindi Police Department was working around the clock to identify victims and uncover alleged ties to international sex cartels.

Israr Ahmad Raja, a Rawalpindi-based internal security analyst, told The Media Line that second to the Zainab murder case in Kasur City, this sex scandal is the biggest in recent memory. He added that the suspect may have raped up to 150 underage girls, with nobody having filed reports except the current victim – thereby underscoring local residents’ distrust of the Rawalpindi Police.

Raja also said that due to a lack of advanced training and modern techniques, investigating officers remain unable to present sufficient evidence in court, which can lead to the acquittal of alleged abusers.

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, Jamil appeared before the deputy superintendent of Rawalpindi Police and applied to have the lead investigator in her case be replaced, claiming the unnamed officer was attempting to portray the accused as innocent. The request was accepted and Jamil was assured her that complaint would be weighed on its own merits.

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