Some relief for Pakistani women in draft Hudood law

Islamabad, Sep 5 (IANS) In what appears a partial victory for women in Pakistan, a draft law to amend the 1979 Hudood ordinance has a new provision against publicising of the names of a rape victim and her family.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 | 3:02:08 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Islamabad, Sep 5 (IANS) In what appears a partial victory for women in Pakistan, a draft law to amend the 1979 Hudood ordinance has a new provision against publicising of the names of a rape victim and her family.

Violation of this shall be punishable with six months imprisonment or fine or both, The News International said, reporting on the proceedings in the National Assembly on Monday that witnessed divisions in the opposition ranks on approach to the law. A report on the draft law was tabled in the National Assembly.

The Hudood Ordinance, which aims to Islamise Pakistani jurisprudence, has been criticised at home by experts, women's organisations and by human rights bodies abroad for being weighed against women.

One major relief envisaged by the bill is to spare a woman of automatic prosecution on the basis of assumed confession if she is unable to prove her charge of zina-bil-jabr, or rape, against a man by producing four witnesses of the crime.

A select committee had studied the legislation that was introduced earlier amid angry protests by the conservatives, led by Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), that significantly, received full support from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, The News International said.

The same line-up continued when the report was tabled.

MMA members shouted 'Allah-O-Akbar' and walked out to protest the legislation, joined by PML (Nawaz) members.

Another exiled premier Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) stayed on in support of the legislation The PPPP has also submitted its dissenting note on some of the clauses, while supporting majority of the bill's clauses.

The PPPP sources hinted that the party would fully support the bill when comes for voting as a 'package deal', as few of its amendments had been made part of the bill.

According to critics, President Pervez Musharraf has been prompted by the West to bring this legislation. 'The American bill is unacceptable. The bill cancelling Hudood of Allah is unacceptable, whoever is a friend of America is a traitor of the country,' MMA members chanted during their second protest and walkout before the speaker adjourned the house until 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Dawn newspaper said that although the MMA regretted the PPPP's stance, it made it clear that Monday's differing stance did not mean the end of the combined opposition forged to campaign against Musharraf's government.

It noted that the protesters did not tear up the bill as they had done on Aug 21 when the original draft was introduced and referred to the select committee, which originally had members from all parliamentary groups but was later boycotted by the MMA and the PML-N.

To check abuse of the Zina and Qazf ordinances, often aimed at settling vendettas and deny women basic human rights and fundamental freedom, the new bill seeks to amend the criminal procedures to provide that only a sessions court may take cognisance of such a case after receiving a complaint.

The draft bill seeks to amend five different legislations of the Hudood ordinance.

The offence has been made bailable so that the accused do not languish in jail during trial. The police will have no authority to arrest anyone in such cases without a sessions court directive, which can be issued

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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