The court upheld a lower court’s ruling based on “lack of evidence,” though it has not issued its own detailed ruling yet. The rulers of the Islamic republic tread lightly in defending women’s rights, knowing any particularly vigorous defense could be construed as “un-Islamic,” and all the more so if it intrudes in any way on Islam’s bizarre standards for establishing that a rape has occurred. Indeed, Sharia has overshadowed this case from the beginning.
Anything short of four male witnesses can be a “lack of evidence,” and the victim, Mukhtaran Mai, notes below that the police did not even take her seriously enough to record her statements correctly in the first place. And of course, such a supposed “lack of evidence” by Islamic standards leaves open the opportunity to blame the woman (or in so many cases, the girl), and do away with her.
Women’s rights are bad for business. Mukhtaran Mai is bad for business. They are so very inconvenient. And so they have both been thrown under the bus, even as the world watches. “Pakistan: Acquittals in Mukhtaran Mai gang rape case,” from BBC News, April 21:
Five of six men charged over a village council-sanctioned gang rape in Pakistan have been acquitted by the Supreme Court.
The court upheld the decision of a lower court, which included commuting the death penalty of the sixth man to life imprisonment.
How long before he is paroled, pardoned, or released on some other excuse?
The victim, Mukhataran Mai, hit world headlines after speaking out about her ordeal in 2002. She has since become an icon for women’s rights in Pakistan.
She said she now feared for her life.
Mukhtaran Mai was her clear and unambiguous self when she spoke minutes after the verdict, the BBC’s Shoaib Hasan in Pakistan said.
“The police never even recorded my own statements correctly,” she said.
“I don’t have any more faith in the courts. I have put my faith in God’s judgement now. I don’t know what the legal procedure is, but my faith [in the system] is gone.
“Yes, there is a threat to me and my family. There is a threat of death, and even of the same thing happening again. Anything can happen.”
Ali Dayan Hasan of the US-based Human Rights Watch said the verdict sent a “very bad signal” across Pakistani society.
“It suggests women can be abused and even raped with impunity and those perpetrating such crimes can walk,” he told the BBC.
That’s the idea.
The Supreme Court ordered the five men’s immediate release – but it is not clear if they have been freed yet.
The court has yet to issue a detailed judgement. But the Lahore High Court – whose decision was upheld – had put the blame on a lack of evidence….