MULTAN, Pakistan (AFP) - A young Pakistani woman self-immolated after police refused to act on her claim she was gang-raped by their colleagues, officials and activists said Wednesday (Oct 14).
Two officers have been arrested after Sonia Bibi, who was in her late teens, burnt herself Tuesday outside a police station in the Muzaffargarh district of central Punjab province.
She was rushed to a hospital in the central city of Multan, but died of her injuries.
"We can confirm that Sonia has committed suicide by setting herself on fire. She had accused some policemen of raping her and that nobody was listening to her complaint," police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar told AFP from Lahore.
"We have constituted a committee to investigate this matter," she said.
Awais Malik, a senior police official in Muzaffargarh, said that two policemen have been arrested and that the chief of the police station has been suspended for his inaction.
"Sonia had alleged that she was kidnapped and raped by two policemen but nobody registered this case despite her complaints. We have arrested the alleged rapists," said Malik.
Muzaffargarh is the same district as the village where a woman named Mukhtaran Mai was horrifically gang-raped in 2002 in an attack that made headlines around the world.
Mai, who became a women's rights advocate after her attack, told AFP Wednesday she was aware of Sonia Bibi's death and said she believed the girl had been "denied justice".
Muzaffargarh district is also where 18-year-old Amina Bibi, who was not related to Sonia, doused herself with petrol and set herself alight in March last year in front of a police station in the village of Beet Meer Hazar.
A local court had dropped her rape claim after a police report said she had not been sexually assaulted.
Physical and sexual violence against women are widespread in Pakistan, a deeply conservative, patriarchal Muslim country.