According to Pakistans independent Human Rights Commission, somewhere in the country a woman is raped every two hours and one is gang-raped every eight hours. And this is thought to be a vast under-estimate as most rapes are not reported. And why are they not reported? Because rape cases are dealt with in strict Sharia courts and victims have to have four male witnesses to the crime – if not they face prosecution for adultery. And the punishment for adultery? Lashing, if you’re lucky – stoning if you’re not.
If this isn’t a sick abomination then I don’t know what is. Laws made by men for the protection of men that allows them to degrade and use women as they choose. And this is, I believe, the 21st century.
But now, in a test of President Musharraf’s stated commitment to a moderate form of Islam, the National Assembly has voted to amend the laws so that rape can be tried in civil courts – where it belongs. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told parliament after the vote:
It is a historic bill because it will give rights to women and help end excesses against them.
But here is the bit that amazed me. Religious parties boycotted the vote, saying the bill encouraged “free sex”. They called the new legislation “a harbinger of lewdness and indecency in the country”. The leader of the six-party MMA Islamic alliance, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, said the bill would “turn Pakistan into a free-sex zone”.
So, raping a woman knowing she has virtually no chance or recourse to justice does not encourage “free sex”? This is not indecent? Not to mention inhumane. And they want to bring these laws here…