Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pakistan Moves Toward Altering Rape Law

Under the Hudood ordinance . . . A woman who reports that she has been raped must produce four male witnesses to prove it. If she fails to do so, she can be prosecuted for adultery. Thousands of women have been punished under the law, often on the flimsiest evidence. That risk has kept many women from trying to bring their attackers to justice.

The new legislation allows forensic and circumstantial evidence to be used as a basis for convictions, as with other crimes.

The amendment also introduces the concept of statutory rape, outlawing sex with girls under 16. The Islamic code had merely banned sex with girls before puberty.

...include cases in which local authorities have permitted rapes as a way of compensating someone judged to have been wronged by the woman's male relatives.

Pakistani officials have taken pains to convince the public that amending the laws would not violate Islamic precepts, and General Musharraf repeated that theme in his remarks. "I assure the entire nation that no Pakistani can ever think of enacting law that is repugnant to the Holy Koran and the Sunnah," the recorded teachings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, he said.

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