Frontline: 'Outlawed In Pakistan'

When 13-year-old Kainat Soomro accused four men of gang rape, she risked everything: her reputation, her education and even her life.

A PBS “Frontline” production, “Outlawed in Pakistan” deals with the alleged gang rape of a young girl, and the devastating consequences on her and her family.

Written and directed by Habiba Nosheen and Hilke Schellmann, “Outlawed” chronicles the story of Kainat Soomro, who claims to have been kidnapped and repeatedly raped by four men at the age of 13. Instead of outlawing her or putting her to death, her family stands behind her, in a culture where the woman is blamed and labeled “impure” simply for leveling such charges. That's because in Pakistan, women and girls who allege rape are often more strongly condemned than their alleged rapists

However, the evidence is...well, none was collected, and there’s no DNA testing to prove Kainat’s case in the face of denials from the accused. Yet as her lawyer puts it, given the stigma associated with such claims by young women -- we’re told matter-of-factly Kainat will never be able to marry -- “Why would this girl lie?”

What follows is both maddening and heartbreaking, told with sensitivity and restraints and almost exclusively through subtitled first-person accounts and interviews. “All I want is justice for you,” Kainat’s mother tells her, but during the course of legal proceedings that the producers covered for nearly four years, the prospect of “justice” seem increasingly elusive.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.


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