Pakistani women suffer many indignities

Times of India Aug, 5, 1992
The Times of India News Service

Women of Indian subcontinent suffer disrespect and indignity, Ms Asma Jhangir, secretary-general of the Human Rights Association of Pakistan said here yesterday.

Delevering a lecture on the "Role and position of women of Pakistan," she said the women there have suffered by not being active in politics. But, expressing hope, she said they have major contribution in stopping the complete Islamisation of Pakistan, and with the world changing, they would not lay behind, she added. The lecture was organised by India-Pakistan friendship society.

Ms Jahangir said women the world over faced the difficulty of having to prove the offence of rape. But in Pakistan, if the police thought the woman had agreed to the sexual act, she became a co-accused , and so very few rape cases are reported.

Giving an instance, she said a blind girl, Safiya Bibi, was raped by her employer and his son. She concieved. After the child was born, the doctor at the hospital urged her father to file a case. But little did he realise that she would be sent to prison for three years and subjected to 75 lashes as punishment while the accused went free.

The most tragic case is of a 13 year old orphan, Jhamina. She was raped by her uncle and his son. A distant relation filed a case. The court held her guilty and gave her 100 lashes in public. The case went in the apeal to the federal shariat court. The judges said: " For the sake of mercy,"the sentence was reduced to 20 lashes and three years imprisonment. After completing her sentence, she went back to her village. But said Ms Jahangir, she has not spoken a word since then to anybody, she pretends to be deaf

There have been instances of policemen raping women and then arresting them for running a brothel. In another case, a 60-year-old woman was raped by a policeman. He was not convicted . But the woman had to fight two years to defend her honour.

The law is open to exploitation. But as it exists in the name of religion, it cannot be changed, she said.

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