Rape Law in Pakistan

Posted: 13 years ago

I just now read this article,and I was so shocked:

Pakistan's rape laws: A blot on "enlightened moderation"

Vikram Johri

Pakistan's government recently delayed presenting a bill to Parliament to reform Islamic laws covering rape and adultery after vociferous objections from Islamic parties.

The government gave in to the hardline Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) after the latter threatened to quit Parliament if the laws, commonly known as the Hudood Ordinances, were changed.

The laws caught international attention after the tragic story of Mukhtaran Mai came to light. Mai was 30 when she was ordered to be gang raped by a tribal jirga in Meerwala Jatoi in southern Punjab. She was made to pay for the clannish disputes between her tribe, the Tatla and the Mastois.
The incident was enough to revive the debate over the Hudood Ordinances. A set of laws intended to make the criminal justice system conform with Islamic law, they were enshrined in Pakistani law in 1979 by General Zia ul-Haq to assuage the country's powerful religious elite following his military coup. These laws cover offences including Zina crimes (unlawful sexual intercourse including adultery and rape) and Qazf (wrongful accusation of Zina crimes). The maximum punishment for Zina crimes is death by stoning. Many Pakistani women are imprisoned for years, convicted or awaiting trial for Zina crimes.
According to Amnesty International, if women report a rape to the police they are often charged with Zina crimes because they have in effect had sexual intercourse outside of marriage and are unable to prove absence of consent. The victim's own testimony is not admissible as evidence. Rape must be proved either by the perpetrator's confession or by the testimony of four men.
Bewildering perversity
The very letter of the law is bewildering in its perversity. How can the victim be expected to produce four witnesses to her rape? How does one "prove" absence of consent? The law puts the onus of proving the rape on the victim and her family. It discourages families from reporting rape to the police since if the rape is not proved, the family is charged with misreporting and detained under Qazf laws.
This is why, despite the Pakistan Human Rights Commission's shocking figures (as per one report, every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours a woman is subjected to gang rape), the actual frequency of rape is thought to be still higher because many rapes remain unreported due to glaring chinks in Pakistan's laws.
General Pervez Musharraf's claims of furthering "enlightened moderation" have begun to sound a lot like hot air. At first sight, his government seemed to be moving forward on the issue. Law Minister Mohammad Wasi Zafar asked for rape to be tried in secular courts and not Islamic ones. That would have been a step forward in rescuing not just rape laws but others, most notably those directed against women and other kinds of minorities (religious, sexual et al), from the influence of Sharia. But all this may come to naught if the government does not resist pressure from the Islamic alliance to retain regressive laws in the statute book.

The government may derive relief from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a major ally of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, that has said it doesn't want to "cave in to conservative people who want to take the country back to mediaeval times".

But that is small comfort for Musharraf who is fighting hard to portray the image of a benevolent reformer to the outside world. Unless he does more to bring Pakistan's laws in tune with notions of a civilized society, Pakistan's claims of being a reformist Islamic nation, following in the footsteps of Kemal Ataturk's Turkey, will continue to ring hollow.
I am so bewildered......why we as humans are like this? Why can we not have a sense of justice and fairness towards another human being? Is power so all important for some of us that humanity and compassion simply gets removed from the larger picture.....
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Posted: 13 years ago

Unbelievable, such laws.

Very cinical one can say that the country saves itself a lot of trouble, as Pakistan will obviously have no rapists. No heated trials that may create a lot of rumour in the press and no prison cells needed for rapists. No recidivists who can be considered a danger to society and NO RAPEVICTIMS. As the victims will be hidden, non-existing as such.

What bitterness, where women have to go now with their horrible experiences? The only hope they can have, is to receive mercy from their family and friends. Hope for mercy...., but no rights whatsoever!

A country which doesn't punish an atrocity is likely to have a high rate of it. My in-laws are from Pakistan and I have heard from them about several rape-cases. And that just in one family. It speaks for its self.

Rape made easy for the rapists, turning many a man into one.
And so rape becomes more unbearable for the victims. Knowing there will be no end to it and knowing they will never get their right.

General Musharraf tried to show himself to the world as a modern man, a reformer.
Well Minnie, you have shown us that he can't live up to that image. And it are the women who are paying the price for his cowardice.

One question is bothering me, what about child-victims?
Child-rape is also tried under these Zina-laws?
If so, then there is one more outlawed group in Pakistani society.

Thanks for waking us up, Minnie.
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Posted: 13 years ago
there was a discussion on this thing a few weeks ago too.

it is the Mullas who are fasad ki jar. the present government tried to bring a new law, but these ppl blackmail them and do anything not to find a better solutions. half of those Mullas sitting in the parliments are rapists themselves. but by the power of money and life threats ppl don't say anything to them or raise fingers aginist them.

as per my knowledge there is no law in Islam about four witnesses. Islam is a religion of peace and gives all the rights to women. they are misusing the laws and messing them up. Zia-ul-Haq was a puppet of Mullas. and he made laws according to their will. which is disgusting.

Pakistan's fall happened only after the Zia-ul-Haq era. he brought such laws to the countries, which stopped the growth of the country. one of them is this Hadud Ardinance.
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Posted: 13 years ago
Its really painful that when a woman is violated the onus of proving the crime is on her. This is so inhuman to ask the victim to prove their innocence is simply barbaric. Dishonoring women is considered to be a 'privilege' Angry by men. Dead
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Posted: 13 years ago
In class once we watched a video on how women in Islamic countries are exploited and tortured and this article further reiterates it for me.

As Sabah said, the Mullahs are there to stop any kind of occasional progress that might take place! They have this notion about women being nothing and are all out to torture the lives of many out there. In an article, i even read that the Mullas are criminals, having raped or murdered someone, but hide behind the pretext of their religion allowing them to do so.

Asking for 4 witness for a rape is absolutely attrocious and ridiculous. Its equivalent to saying, 'well too bad if ur raped, we are no going to care'. The way they treat a women is worse than the way they treat animals!

Is humanity dead in these countries? Or did it never exist from the beginning?
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Posted: 13 years ago
When there is a government in Pakistan then why are Mullahs taking decisions? Such a sad plight.
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Posted: 13 years ago
Government? I thought it was initially military rule,and then turned into some weird acceptable form of, what??
A military man is what Musharraf is. Correct me if I'm wrong, but was he ever elected by the people??

Sorry to say it, but I couldnt give a toss about thee so called Mullahs anyway. Like theyre really going to show empathy for wronged women...........

Angry M Angry

Edited by Madmadgirl - 13 years ago
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Posted: 13 years ago
Thanks for sharing this article Minnie.

Yes, it is sad to see such things happen. Specially being a woman it is so hard to know the fact that there are other women out there who do not get justice. Like Pakistan Law Minister Mohammad Wasi Safar said, if rape to be tried in secular court and not Islamic ones it would be a good step. But it is sad to see that they get such pressure from religious alliance.

Now my personal opinion. I think such matters are not better solve if there is involvement from international community. I think there should be revolution from locals to make have any kind of justice. I know it is slow way and sometime it takes longer, but personally I think people or religion or nation should be left with some law on their own, until their own people feel like any change is needed. Sorry, as I may sound harsh, but in such case I can only show my anger, frustration, sadness, but if all those feelings including revolution by local/national women are shown it could bring some changes.

Sorry if I have hurt anyone, as that was never my intention.
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