Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The Shame of Pakistan - The Case of Mukhtar Mai
Hudood (Rape) Laws and What they Mean - Catch 22
Back in March I wrote about Mukhtar Mai of Pakistan who was gang raped. Unlike others in her situation, she fought back---sought legal recourse. The four men charged with rape were at first freed but the intense publicity generated by the case and outcry from women's organizations forced the court to put them in prison.
Now they are being released. The Government of Pakistan placed Mukhtar Mai in house arrest (supposedly "for her own safety") and banned her from traveling. The criticism in foreign press was quick and scathing. The authorities caved in. According to latest news, she will be allowed to travel. The government was concerned that her appearance before international organizations would damage the "image of Pakistan".
Pakistan's antiquated Hudood laws are shameful. While educated and wealthy Pakistanis remain largely immune from them, in some areas of the country the enforcement of Hudood is very much in evidence. More and more Pakistani women are speaking out against the laws and customs which relegate women to little more than slaves.
This is from the web site of LHRA (Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid), Pakistan.
The Zina Hudood Ordinance(1979)Defined
- The Hudood Ordinance criminalizes Zina, which is defined as extra-marital sex including adultery or fornication.
- It also criminalizes Zina-bil-jabr, which is defined as rape outside of a valid marriage.
- The Hudood Ordinance further defines Zina and Zina-bil-jabr on the basis of the assigned criminal punishment. Hence there is Zina and Zina-bil-jabr liable to Hadd (punishment ordained by the Holy Quran or Sunnah), and there is Zina and Zina-bil-jabr liable to tazir that is, any punishment other then Hadd.
- The Hadd punishment is stoning to death, and the tazir punishment for Zina is up to ten years of imprisonment and whipping - up to 30 lashes and/or a fine. The tazir punishment for Zina-bil-jabr is up to 25 years of imprisonment and whipping up to 30 lashes.
- (a) the accused makes before a Court of competent jurisdiction a confession of the commission of the offence; or
- (b) at least four Muslim adult male witnesses, about whom the Court is satisfied, having regard to the requirements of tazkiyah al-shuhood [credibility of witnesses], that they are truthful persons and abstain from major sins (kaba’ir), give evidence as eye-witnesses of the act of penetration necessary to the offence (P.L.D. 1979, 53; Bokhary 1979, 182; Major Acts 1992, 12).3
As avowed champion of human rights the Bush administration ought to raise the plight of Mukhtar Mai and others with the Government of Pakistan. Don't hold your breath; not going to happen. President Musharraf of Pakistan is our ally in the fight against terrorists. So our government looks the other way. The hypocrites continue to utter platitudes.