This is a result of Muhammad's exoneration of his favorite wife, Aisha, who was suspected of adultery. Allah gave him a revelation requiring four male witnesses to establish such a crime: "And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony - They indeed are evil-doers" (Qur'an 24:4). The problem with this is that women who accuse men of rape but cannot produce four male witnesses are often accused themselves of zina -- unlawful sexual intercourse -- and jailed as a result.
"Fareeda's fate: rape, prison and 25 lashes: Up to 80 per cent of women in Pakistan's jails are charged under rules that penalise rape victims. But hardliners have vetoed an end to the Islamic laws," from The Guardian, with thanks to PVB:
In the blinding white desert sunlight in a farm courtyard on the outskirts of the ancient town of Shekhupura, Fareeda nervously passes a green silk hijab between her fingers. Unusually for a young Pakistani woman, her fingernails are not pristine and carefully painted but chewed, cracked and grubby.
Fareeda says she feels safe here - a safe house for rape victims run by a local NGO. Littered with rusting motorcycle carcases and parts of discarded fridges and cookers, it feels like a scrapyard.
The story of this 19-year-old's journey here is horrifying. In spring 2005 she was raped by her family's neighbour, a postman, and his teenage son. She fell pregnant - and later miscarried - as a result. Her mistake was to tell her parents. With their consent, under Pakistan's orthodox Islamic laws, she was charged with fornication outside marriage and sentenced to 100 lashes, later reduced to 50 and then 25 because of her age, and sent to jail. After four months her prison ordeal ended when a family friend secretly paid a bribe. Her plight is not unique.
According to a recent report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a woman is gang-raped every eight hours in the country. However, because of social taboos, discriminatory laws and the treatment of victims by police, campaigners believe the real figure is far higher. Women who report their rapists remain more likely to go to prison themselves than see justice, so most cases are never reported. Women who are raped can face legal difficulties anywhere in the world, but human rights groups remain particularly concerned over Pakistan's record. Their alarm is centred on enforcement of the 'Hudood ordinances', a complex set of Koranic laws whose name is derived from hud meaning 'punishment'. Similar sharia laws have existed in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan for centuries, but Pakistan's were enacted by former President Zia ul-Haq only in 1979, as part of his radical attempt to 'Islamicise' the country.
The legislation has always been full of legal ambiguities, and none more so than the Zina ordinance which deals with adultery, premarital sex and rape. The maximum punishment for adultery is stoning to death for married people and 100 lashes for the unwed.
For a rape trial to go ahead in Pakistan, four adult Muslim men, 'all of a pious and trustworthy nature', must have witnessed the attack and be willing to testify. Evidence from female and non-Muslim witnesses is considered worthless. A woman who can't produce those witnesses can be prosecuted for fornication and alleging a false crime, the penalties for which are stoning, lashings or prison.
Read it all.