Hudood Bill Stirs Debate in Pakistan

A bill on amending the Hudood Ordinances continues to stir heated debate in Muslim Pakistan a few days after the government introduced it to the parliament amid noisy protests from opposition parties.

Hudood Bill Stirs Debate in Pakistan

A bill on amending the Hudood Ordinances continues to stir heated debate in Muslim Pakistan a few days after the government introduced it to the parliament amid noisy protests from opposition parties.

"We will oppose the changes in the Islamic laws in the parliament and outside the parliament," Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, the leader of the opposition Muttahida Majilsa Amal (MMA), told IsdlamOnline.net.

MMA, a six-party alliance of religious parties in the parliament, vowed the strongest possible resistance to the government proposed changes in the laws enacted in 1979.

Fazal-ur-Rehman insists that the bill, the Protection of women Bill 2006, is against Shari`ah and would dilute the Islamic character of laws in the country.

He stressed that the religious parties would not allow the government to amend the Islamic laws.

After protracted debate in the media the government has recently announced its intentions to bring changes to the Hudood Ordinances instead of repealing it altogether.

The introduction of the bill by the government on Monday, August 21, witnessed the worst pandemonium in Pakistani parliament.

Opposition lawmakers shouted slogans against the government, tore up copies of the amendments and walked out.

They accused President Pervez Musharraf of being a traitor and a friend of America.

After an initial debate the parliament speaker sent the bill to the parliamentary standing committee to debate proposed amendments and evolve consensus among the parliamentary blocs.

The Hudood Ordinances, enforced in 1979 by the then military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, laid down punishments for crimes such as rape, theft and adultery.

Under the Hudood code, a man and woman found guilty of having sex outside of marriage could be sentenced to death by stoning or 100 lashes, while thieves would have their right hands amputated, but these punishments have seldom been invoked, let alone carried out.

Backwardness

The secular opposition political parties, especially the party of former premier Benazir, Bhutto are not opposing the government move to amend the I slamic laws.

Farzana Bari, an Islamabad-based women rights activist, charged that the politics of Muttahida Majil-e-Amal is primarily anti-women.

She blamed the MMA's opposition to the changes in the Islamic laws on their "backward policies."

Bari lamented that she described as the government's lenient view on these laws, saying these laws should not be amended but rather repealed outright.

The campaign to repeal the Hudood Ordinances was championed by GEO Television, a private news channel.

Under the Hudood code, a women who files complain of rape against a man has to produce four witnesses in support of her claim, failing which she could be arrested and charged under the offense of sex with mutual consent, adultery.

Law Minister Wasi Zafar said the amendment intends to end to the injustice meted out to women and ensure protection of their rights.

The proposed amendment separates the offenses of sex with mutual consent and rape into different category of offenses.

It proposes that the offense of rape be dealt with under the British-influenced Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and not the Hudood Ordinances.

President Musharraf has recently passed a law to release on bail all women prisoners languishing in jails for offenses under the Hudood Ordinances.

Hundreds of women were released as a result of the presidential order.

The bill was to be tabled in the parliament earlier this month, but got held up after cabinet ministers and treasury religious parties raised objections to certain amendments.

A ministerial committee was formed to remove the objections, and Musharraf recently pressed members of the ruling party to pass the bill.

One of the objections was to an amendment under which intercourse with a girl of less than 16 years of age, with or without her consent, would be considered rape.

The ministers had objected that this would cause problems in rural areas where girls are traditionally married off at young ages.

Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, the parliamentary affairs minister, told IslamOnline.net the said clause would not apply to married couples, even if the age of the wife were below 16.

"For married couples, the concept of puberty, as mentioned in Islam, will apply. The condition of consent, in the case of rape, will apply only to those who are not married to each other."

Source:Islamonline.net

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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