Sunday, October 01, 2006

Battling unjust laws


PRESIDENT Parvez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have called a temporary truce during their Havana meeting but within Pakistan there seems to be no end in sight to the battle between the fundamentalists and Pakistani women who are demanding their basic human rights.

Many women in Pakistan had hoped that the day had finally dawned when the dreaded Hudood Ordinance, enacted in 1979 by Zia ul-Haq when Pakistan became an Islamic republic, would be withdrawn. The Hudood Ordinance, according to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, "criminalises adultery and non-marital sex, including rape. It further victimises the women victims by providing virtual impunity to the rapists and prosecuting the victims instead."

Under this law, if a woman is raped, and reports it, the onus is on her to prove that she was raped. She has to bring along four male eyewitnesses. Only then will the law consider her case. On the other hand, if she cannot prove that she was raped, then she could be charged with adultery, a non-bailable offence that can even invite the death penalty under certain circumstances.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)

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