ACHR PRESS RELEASE
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ACHR Index: PR/PAK/01/06
13 September 2006

Pakistan's proposed rape law reform inadequate

About 80% of incarcerated women in Pakistan are
victims of the Hudood Ordinance

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) stated that the revised draft Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2006 to be tabled in National Assembly of Pakistan today falls short of Pakistan's obligations under international human rights law.

The proposed bill seeks to amend the four male witness requirements under the Hudood Ordinance to prove rape and allow bail for women arrested under the Hudood Ordinance. However, as the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) opposed the Bill, the government reached an agreement to keep the Hudood Ordinance under the statute and try both rape and adultery cases under the Hudood laws and Pakistan's Penal Code.

Under the Hudood Ordinance, if a woman who claims to have been raped fails to prove, she can be convicted of adultery, which is punishable by death in the most stringent circumstances. A rape victim is required to produce at least four adult male Muslim eyewitnesses, who have physically seen the act of rape against the victim, in order to prove her claims. Because of social taboos, discriminatory laws and victimisation of victims by police, most rape cases are not reported in Pakistan. About 80 % of the 6500 women prisoners of Pakistan are victims of the Hudood Ordinances.

ACHR also condemned the proposed new offence under Section 502 B of the Pakistan Penal Code which provides that “Whoever publicises any case of zina or rape whereby the identity of any woman or her family member is disclosed shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine or with both”.

“This is nothing but an attempt to silence Mukthar Mais from speaking before the press. This itself reflects the lack of commitment of the government to protect the women in Pakistan – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

[Ends]


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