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Manifestazione davanti al Parlamento pakistano, 15 Nov. 06
Protest rally outside the Parliament house in Islamabad, Nov. 15, 2006
PAKISTAN. PARLIAMENT APPROVES CHANGES TO ISLAMIC RAPE LAW

November 15, 2006: Pakistan's parliament approved amendments to an Islamic-based law on rape, dropping the death penalty and flogging for those convicted of consensual sex outside marriage, officials said. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf praised lawmakers for passing the bill, which enraged Islamist lawmakers who stormed out of parliament in protest.
The changes, which must still be approved by the government-controlled Senate and signed off by Musharraf, also gave judges discretion to try rape cases in a criminal rather than Islamic court, where women have to present at least four witnesses for a conviction.
Under the amendments, consensual sex outside of marriage would be punishable by five years in jail or a 10,000 rupees ($165) fine instead of death or flogging, said a parliamentary official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.
The amendments won cautious support from human rights activists, who still said the government needed to go further and scrap the law, known as the Hudood Ordinance, altogether. The law made prosecuting rape cases almost impossible, and placed women at risk of being tried or even sentenced to death for adultery.
"The government has made some positive changes by passing this bill, but it does not meet our demands," said Hina Jillani, a top female Pakistani human rights activist. "We wanted a total repeal of the 1979 rape law, but the government has not done it." Strict Islamic laws dictate that a woman who claims rape must produce four witnesses in court, making a trial of the alleged rapist almost impossible because such attacks rarely happen in public. Those who admit that sex took place outside of marriage but cannot prove it was rape risk being charged with adultery. (Sources: Dow Jones International News, 15/11/2006)

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