Sunday, 9 March 2014

Proving Rape in Pakistan

‘I wish I had been born when the Arabs buried their daughters alive. Even that would have been better than this torture.’

‘If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four (reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way.’- Koran

The problem for a Pakistani woman who has been raped is that she requires four Muslim adult males of ‘good repute’ to testify in order for her to prove that the rape has actually occurred. 

Now; because men are often unwilling to speak out against other males when it comes to rape (in Pakistan especially), and the added possibility that they may know or be friends with the rapist, this makes it almost impossible for the woman to find such male testifiers. This goes alongside the unlikelihood that four men would have witnessed the rape in the first place.

So even if there were four sympathetic Muslim men to testify, they would hardly be likely to have witnessed the rape. (Though, of course, some rapes are indeed witnessed.) Not only that. These non-existent male witnesses, if they had been there at the time of the rape, would still be required to prove to the Islamic authorities that actual penetration had occurred.

Because the raped woman is highly unlikely to have four males who can testify for her that the rape has occurred, the result is that she herself may well be charged for ‘illicit sexual intercourse’. The rapist will then go free.

To top all of this. If the raped woman becomes pregnant, this is also taken as an ‘admission’, or a proof, that adultery or fornication has taken place with the woman’s actual consent. Thus she would be even more likely to be charged. Why pregnancy is a proof, or an admission, that actual rape has not occurred is hard to fathom. But one can guess that it will have something to do with Islamic theology.

If men can officially and literally get away with rape in Islamic Pakistan, what do you think the consequence of this is? Yes, you’ve got it. More rapes. Not only more rapes; but many more rapes. So many that Pakistan has one of the highest rates of rape in the world. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s annual report, one woman is raped every three hours in Pakistan. One in two of these rapes are against juveniles.

Now of course rape exists in every country. But not every country has a religion, Islam, and a system, sharia law, which basically makes it legal to rape women.

To conclude. Many Pakistani women are effectively found guilty of being raped. They then go to prison where they are often raped again. (Are they found guilty of being raped in prison as well?) 

After President Zia’s ‘Islamisation programme’ in the 1990s, the number of attacks on women increased (as happened in the case of the ‘Islamisation of Afghanistan’ by the Taliban). After the passage of the Sharia Bill in 1991, things got even worse.

All this shows a direct connection between sharia law, or Islam itself, and violence against women. As one woman put it:

‘The sharia bill is a means to control women and marginalise them instead of bringing in just order. It is a law that facilitates aggression against women but ignores the corruption in the country and it disregards violence against women.’

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