Thursday, November 16, 2006

Islamists Object To New Rape Laws

Pakistan is working to change the laws regarding rape, with the lower house of Parliament passing amendments that erase the death penalty for extramarital sex and revising the clause that make victims produce four witnesses to prove that they were raped.

Consentual extramarital sex is still a crime which is punishable by five years in prison, or a $165 fine... Maybe not perfect, but a step in the right direction, at least.

These amendments still have to be approved by the Senate, but (surprise) enraged Islamic fundamentalists want them thrown out altogether.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf urged the Pakistani Senate to go ahead and approve the amendments, and decried the Fundamentalists claim that his government is acting against Islam.

From the AP:

"I have taken a firm decision to change these unjust rape laws as it was necessary to amend them to protect women," Musharraf said in a televised address to the nation.

The amendments were passed by a majority of the 342-member assembly, including Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who said it marked "a historic day" for the country.

"Nothing is against Islam in this bill," Aziz said, adding that the amendments were made in consultation with Islamic scholars, lawmakers and human rights activists.

Pro-Islamic lawmakers stormed out of the National Assembly Wednesday in protest of the new legislation, known as the Protection of Women Bill.
"We reject it," Maulana Fazlur Rahman, a top Islamist opposition leader, told reporters after the vote, which he described as a "dark day" in Pakistan's parliamentary history.

Rahman and other Islamists vowed to devise a strategy to block Senate passage of the bill. Islamic political groups have previously staged mass rallies to denounce moves by the military-led government deemed contrary to Islam.

Oh, are any of us surprised that devout Islamo-fascists wouldn't want women to be protected?

Ali Dayan Hasan, a South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the Pakistani government had "failed to remove provisions criminalizing adultery" but had provided "partial relief" by repealing the death sentence.

"The Pakistani government remains in violation of its international obligations on ending discrimination against women," Hasan said.

This action to partially repeal the 1979 Pakistani rape law is most likely in response to international and local outcry to the gang-rape of Mukhtar Mai, which some of you may recall, who was sentanced to be gang-raped for her 13-year-old BROTHER's affair with a woman who was "outside his caste."

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