The measure to revise the rape laws in Pakistan continues to inch forward, but will always face opposition from those who share the opinion of Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, quoted below, that “Neither Parliament or anyone else has the authority to remove or change laws of God” regarding accusations of rape and adultery (see Qur’an 24:13).
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The government will propose legislation amending Pakistan’s rape laws to remove the near impossible burden of proof placed on victims and protect them
from retaliatory adultery charges, a senior lawmaker said Tuesday.
The draft amendment will likely be submitted soon to the National Assembly, or lower house of Parliament, Mahnaz Rafi, chairwoman for Parliament’s special committee for women’s development, told The Associated Press.
This will be a historic change and it will end decades of miseries for women,” said Rafi, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q party.
Since Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1979, a woman must produce four Muslim witnesses to prove she is the victim of a rape. A woman who claims she was raped but fails to prove her charges can then be arrested and convicted of adultery or for having sex outside marriage.
Under the proposed amendments, the person who accuses a woman of committing adultery (or has sex outside of marriage) will have to come up with four witnesses” in a common law court, Rafi said.
Pakistan has two parallel and sometimes overlapping legal systems: one based on British common law and another based on Islamic law.
Under Islamic, or Shariah, law, women can be sentenced to death by stoning if found guilty of having sex outside of marriage, although the usual sentence is life in prison.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a moderate, has sought to reform Islamic laws to improve women’s rights in the past but backed off because of strong opposition in deeply
Earlier this month, however, Musharraf signed an amendment that allowed women awaiting charges to be released on bail – his first change to Pakistan’s Islamic laws.
A lawmaker from a coalition of radical Islamic groups said Tuesday that the coalition opposes repealing Islamic laws in their entirety, as many moderates are demanding, but it may support legislation aimed at improving how investigations are handled.
“Neither Parliament or anyone else has the authority to remove or change laws of God,” said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a prominent figure in the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal or United Action Forum opposition coalition.
Ahmed, a member of the National Assembly, declined to comment in detail because he had not seen the draft amendments.
Parties supporting Musharraf have enough strength in Parliament to pass the bill.