Pakistan rape victim dies after setting self ablaze in protest

MULTAN, Pakistan Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:46pm IST

Activists hold a banner during a protest rally in Karachi April 23, 2011. REUTERS/Athar Hussain/Files

Activists hold a banner during a protest rally in Karachi April 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Athar Hussain/Files

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MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - The 17-year-old Pakistani victim of a gang rape died on Friday after setting herself on fire in protest against a police report that led to the release of a key suspect, a doctor and her brother said.

Rape and other forms of sexual assault and domestic violence are widespread in deeply conservative Pakistan, but such public acts of desperation by abused women are rare.

College student Amina Bibi doused herself with petrol and then set it alight on Thursday outside a police station near the city of Muzaffargarh, in Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab.

A video shot by a bystander shows a woman in a headscarf engulfed by flames, her face charred and distorted in agony.

"She was under our treatment but she succumbed to her wounds on Friday morning," Muhammad Usman, a local doctor, told Reuters.

The police decision to release the main suspect had been too much for Bibi to handle, her brother told Reuters.

"She was already depressed after going through the trauma, but after the release of the accused, she lost all hope of getting justice and set herself on fire," Ghulam Shabir said.

Bibi was raped by five men as she walked home from her college on January 5, he added.

"I was with her on January 5 when five men kidnapped her at gunpoint and took her away," he said. "I couldn't do anything because they were armed."

Police said they would revisit the case following the death.

"It seems the case had not been properly investigated," said senior police office Chaudhry Asghar. "We have suspended the investigation officer, Rana Zulfiqar, and placed him in detention."

(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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