A 17-year-old girl, who had allegedly been raped a year earlier, committed suicide in Sindh's Tharparkar district after she was reportedly blackmailed by the suspects whom her family had accused of sexually assaulting her.
The teenager, who belonged to a Hindu family, took her own life in the early hours of Wednesday by jumping into a deep open well in village Dalan-Jo-Tarr near Chelhar town.
Villagers retrieved the body and shifted it to Mithi Civil Hospital for postmortem examination.
"The girl was raped by three men in mid-July in 2019 and the accused in the case are on bail," the victim's father and other relatives told reporters in Mithi.
They alleged that the girl committed suicide after she was blackmailed and harassed by the influential suspects who had raped her.
Chelhar police had registered a first information report (FIR) no. 26/2019, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, against three men on rape charges.
The suspects had not only taken turns to rape the girl but allegedly also filmed the ordeal after taking her to a house.
According to then-Tharparkar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Abdullah Ahmedyar, initial medical reports had confirmed that the girl had been sexually assaulted.
The trial of the case was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. October 15 has now been fixed as the date when evidence in the case will be submitted, the lawyer of the victim's family, Advocate Mohan Mathrani, told Dawn.com.
No fresh case was registered against the accused after the girl's death (until the filing of this report), however, one of the three suspects was arrested again by Chelhar police on the orders of Tharparkar SSP Hassan Sardar Niazi.
Chelhar Station House Office Mushtaq Malik said police would register a new case if the family lodges a complaint of blackmail or harassment.
People from different walks of life including rights activists Samtra Manjani, Bheem Raj and others strongly condemned the incident and demanded stern action against those who forced the teenager to take the extreme step.
People of the Meghwar community, as well as workers of various parties, have warned they will stage protests in Thar and other areas against such rising incidents of crimes against women.
The incident comes amid renewed debate and outrage over sexual crimes against women in the country, which was sparked by the gang-rape of a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in front of her children after she was left stranded by a fault in her car.
Amidst countrywide anger, Prime Minister Imran Khan said rapists should be handed down the most severe punishments to curb rising sexual violence, such as either hanging them publicly or chemically castrating them.
A Sindh Police study had revealed earlier this year that as many as 1,287 people, including 586 females, committed suicide across the province over the last five years.
The research was carried out in the wake of growing incidents of suicide, particularly in lower Sindh, the provincial police chief had told Dawn, saying its purpose was partly to sensitise the police and identify triggering factors behind suicides.