Govt caves in to mullahs
* Cohttp://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006/11/15/story_15-11-2006_pg1_1nsenting sex to be made offence under Pakistan Penal Code
By Rana Qaisar
ISLAMABAD: The government has proposed amendments in the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill to declare “lewdness”, defined as wilful sexual intercourse, a punishable offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The proposed new Section 496B in Clause 7 of the PPC says: “A man and a woman not married to each other are said to commit lewdness if they wilfully have sexual intercourse with one another.” The government is expected to table the bill in the National Assembly today, and pass it by tomorrow.
The proposed amendment provides for a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rs 10,000. The amendments will be incorporated in the bill as approved by a parliamentary select committee.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) had insisted that zina-bil-raza (consenting sex) be retained as a criminal offence, even if its implementation resulted in rape victims being punished for failing to prove that sexual intercourse was forced upon them.
The select committee report had stated that as long as women ran a risk of being punished for zina (adultery), they hesitated to report cases of zina-bil-jabr (rape), and countless rapes were not reported for fear that the victim would end up being punished rather than the perpetrator.
However, the government claims to have built “firewalls” into the bill, which will legislate that a victim of rape complaining to the court will not be punishable for any offence in case she fails to prove her case. She would be prosecuted only if the complaint is made before a magistrate. It would also be a bailable offence in which the police have no role.
Another proposed amendment states that a complainant alleging lewdness would be immediately punished for qazf by the trial court if he or she failed to prove the allegation. “Whoever brings or levels or gives evidence of false charge of lewdness against any person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs 10,000,” according to the proposed Section 496C of the PPC.
The Hudood Ordinances, promulgated in 1979, have resulted in several rape victims being imprisoned for adultery, while the alleged rapists go free, because they have been unable to produce four male witnesses to the offence.