Pakistan--A Little Good News
Every so often there is a little bit of good news in the world. Take this headline for example: Pakistan Makes Changes to Rape Law.
On Friday, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf signed the Protection of Women bill, a controversial new rape statute which will make it easier for women to seek, and hopefully, attain justice in Pakistan.
Previously, Pakistan had the Hudood Ordinance in place which demanded four Muslim male witnesses to the actual act of penetration in order to prosecute. Theoretically a Muslim male could rape a woman in front of her entire family and if they were anything but Muslim and there were fewer than four males, the rapist couldn’t be tried. Now judges can choose to try the perpetrator in criminal court where the four male Muslim witnesses would not be the standard.
Pakistan will also drop the death penalty for sex outside of marriage, apparently used almost exclusively against women and possibly utilized when a woman accused a man of raping her since she had just admitted that she had intercourse with him. Now sex outside of marriage will only cost her five years in prison or a fine.
How much of a change this law will actually make in Pakistan remains to be seen. It is, however, a tiny step forward. There needs to be a corresponding change in the hearts and minds of men in the land. So far, there has been protesting by Muslims around the country who see the change as an attack on their society, an attempt to make them more Western.
"I call on all people to prevent Musharraf and his team from wrecking Muslim society," said opposition leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed who heads a coalition of Islamic groups.
International pressure on Pakistan to rewrite its rape laws intensified after the 2002 tribally promoted and enforced rape of a young woman to punish her brother for an alleged affair.
Hat tip to Reformed Chicks Blabbing.
Previous posts: Pakistan and Hudood Ordinances