PAKISTAN. COUNCIL OF ISLAMIC IDEOLOGY: RAPED WOMEN TO BE TREATED AS VICTIMS, NOT OFFENDERS
March 31, 2007: In a unanimous decision, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) ruled that a woman forced to have intercourse (zina-bil-jabr) should not be considered guilty of adultery, but should instead be viewed under the law as a victim of rape. The ruling de facto modifies the Hudood Ordinances and represents a great step forward in Pakistani Law.
āIn this case [rape], the woman will be a complainant and the state will be bound to investigate, arrest the rapist and punish him if the crime is proved,ā a CII press release said.
The council also stressed that rape (zina-bil-jabr) and consensual sex with someone other than a spouse (zina-bil-raza) are separate crimes and should be judged separately.
Until now the Hudood Ordinances adopted in 1979 by the military junta headed by General Zia-ul-Haq did not differentiate between adultery and rape. Under those regulations to prove her case, a woman had to produce four adult Muslim men as witnesses to testify before an Islamic court that they saw the forced sexual act.
If the victim failed to produce the witnesses she would be accused of adultery and sent to prison or lapidated.
The same rules said that evidence provided by non Muslims was not admissible before a court.
For some analysts the decision by the CII, which plays an advisory role and has great influence on Pakistani lawmakers but no formal power, represents an attempt by President Pervez Musharraf to regain support among moderate Pakistanis ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. (Sources: AsiaNews, 02/04/2007)