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A young woman was raped by 3 men in retribution for refusing to perform illegal abortions in a rural community in the western Punjab 22Feb06.

Rubina K., 26, worked as a nurse in the Mattrai health center.

She refused to carry out abortions on 2 women, despite six months of constant pressure from the women’s families.

“In the past our staff has been subjected to this type of victimization for refusing to carry out illegal abortions, but they have not raised their voices for fear of retribution”, said Riaz Hussein, of the Punjab Healthworkers Association.

Abortion is illegal in Pakistan after the fourth month of pregnancy, unless the woman’s life is in danger. Under the tribal system operating in isolated districts of the country, village leaders sometimes order gang rapes as a punishment against women for various social ‘transgressions’.

“The family came and harassed me but I never imagined they would do this,” Miss K. said, weeping.

“They have threatened my family with dire consequences if we do not settle this. But this is not the past when we can get pushed around.”

The UN has targeted Pakistan with aggressive population control measures over the past five years.

In November 2000, the UNFPA threatened to withdraw US$250 million in health programs if the country refused to accept an additional $35 million in funding for birth control and abortion.

Pakistan succumbed to pressure and agreed to make population control a ‘national priority’ in the country.

[; Telegraph; Gudrun Schultz MATTRAI, Pakistan, 27Feb06,,; N Valko RN, 28Feb06]