Monday, September 11, 2006

A little ray of sunshine from Pakistan

Things are not all doom and gloom, and the backwards-looking forces of religious theocracy are not having everything their own way.

The government of Pakistan is attempting to reform their cruel, misogynistic Hudood law, which makes prosecuting rape charges virtually impossible, and actually leads to the rape victim being punished. If the rape victim fails to prove she was raped -- and this proof is almost impossible under the wicked requirement that rape can only be proven by four male Muslim witnesses in good standing -- she risks being charged with adultery, a capital crime in Pakistan.

Despite the protests of a small number of religious extremists, the government is saying that they are determined to change the law, removing the requirement of four male witnesses, and introducing a new requirement that adultery (which is a serious offense in Pakistan) can only be proven if there are four witnesses.

Government lawmakers have said the proposed changes would eliminate the four-witness requirement and ensure that rape cases are tried in civil — not religious — courts.

The legislation would also make it much harder for a woman reporting a rape to be convicted of adultery if she fails to prove her case, by introducing a requirement for four witnesses to prove the adultery.

The Hudood law, which criminalizes any non-marital sex, has led to thousands of women being imprisoned and rendered most sexual assault victims unable to seek redress through the criminal justice system.

A small step, but an important one.

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