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In Pakistan, Rape Victims Are the 'Criminals'

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by mental invalid, May 17, 2002.

  1. mental invalid

    mental invalid Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 11, 2001 Messages: 13,050 Likes Received: 8
    In Pakistan, Rape Victims Are the 'Criminals'

    CHORLAKI, Pakistan — The evidence of guilt was there for all to see: a newborn baby in the arms of its mother, a village woman named Zafran Bibi.

    Her crime: she had been raped. Her sentence: death by stoning.

    Now Ms. Zafran, who is about 26, is in solitary confinement in a death-row cell in Kohat, a nearby town. The only visitor she is allowed is her baby daughter, now a year old and being cared for by a prison nurse.

    In photographs, Ms. Zafran is a tall woman with striking green eyes — a peasant woman of the hot and barren hills of Pakistan's northwest frontier country. Unschooled and illiterate, like most other women here, she may have little understanding of what has happened to her. But her story is not uncommon under Pakistan's strict Islamic laws.

    Thumping a fat red statute book, the white-bearded judge who convicted her, Anwar Ali Khan, said he had simply followed the letter of the Koran-based law, known as hudood, that mandates punishments.

    "The illegitimate child is not disowned by her and therefore is proof of zina," he said, referring to laws that forbid any sexual contact outside marriage. Furthermore, he said, in accusing her brother-in-law of raping her, Ms. Zafran had confessed to her crime.

    "The lady stated before this court that, yes, she had committed sexual intercourse, but with the brother of her husband," Judge Khan said. "This left no option to the court but to impose the highest penalty."

    Although legal fine points do exist, little distinction is made in court between forced and consensual sex.

    When hudood was enacted 23 years ago, the laws were formally described as measures to ban "all forms of adultery, whether the offense is committed with or without the consent of the parties." But it is almost always the women who are punished, whatever the facts.

    The case of Ms. Zafran fits a familiar pattern. But it raised an outcry, even in Pakistan, because of the sentence of death by stoning, a punishment called for by hudood but never carried out here. The facts of her case have become the subject of editorials and news stories in Pakistan, bringing her some notoriety, and in early May, a higher court called for a review of Ms. Zafran's sentence.

    But even if the case returns to a more typical course, she is likely to spend 10 to 15 years in prison as the result of her rape, said Rukhshanda Naz, who heads the local branch of a women's rights group called Aurat. As many as 80 percent of all women in Pakistani jails have been convicted under laws that ban extramarital sex, according to Aurat.

    Ms. Zafran, whether she was angry or just naïve, chose to point her finger at the man she said raped her. The assaults, she said, came sometimes on the hillside behind her house when she went to cut hay, sometimes at home when nobody was there to see.

    Sardar Ali Khan, her lawyer, said that Ms. Zadran had told him she cried when she was raped and that she had cried again as she spoke to him about what happened.

    Her husband, Niamat Khan, was serving a prison sentence for murder and in his absence, she had become the plaything of at least one of his brothers.

    "She complained to her mother-in-law and her father-in-law," her lawyer said, "but they just turned away." It was her pregnancy that forced her accusations into the open and led to her conviction for zina.

    Human rights groups say abuse of women is endemic in Pakistan. Often, they are locked inside their homes where they are subjected to beatings, acid attacks, burning and rape. Every year there are hundreds of "honor killings," in which a woman is murdered for perceived breaches of modesty.

    For the most part, abuses like these are carried out with impunity, and often with the support of traditional communities.

    Rape itself is a crime under hudood, but it is so difficult to prove that men are rarely convicted. On the other hand, human rights workers say, as many as half the women who report a rape are charged under zina laws with adultery.

    "With the men, they apply the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty," said Asma Jahangir, an official of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the author of a book on hudood. "With the women, they apply the principle that you are guilty until proven innocent."

    The man Ms. Zafran accused, Jamal Khan, was set free without charges. A case against him would have been a waste of the court's time. Under the laws of zina, four male witnesses, all Muslims and all citizens of upright character, must testify to having seen a rape take place. The testimony of women or non-Muslims is not admissible. The victim's accusation also carries little weight; the only significant testimony she can give is an admission of guilt.

    "The proof is totally impossible," said Ms. Naz. "If a woman brings a charge of rape, she puts herself in grave danger." If, on the other hand, the woman does not report the rape and becomes pregnant out of wedlock, her silence can be taken as proof of guilt.

    It is not only women but also young girls who are at risk, Aurat says. If girls report a rape, they face the same prospects of punishment as women.

    A man can deflect an accusation of rape by claiming that his victim, of any age, consented. If the victim has reached puberty, she is considered to be an adult and is then subject to prosecution for zina. As a result, the Aurat report says, girls as young as 12 or 13 have been convicted of having forbidden sexual relations and have been punished with imprisonment and a public whipping.

    With no safe recourse, rights workers say, rape victims often flee to the protection of influential families, which may take them in as servants.

    The harsh life of women like Ms. Zafran seems to blend with the harshness of the land on which they live. The dry, rocky hills along the frontier with Afghanistan, where only thorn bushes thrive, offer no hint to the people here that a gentler life is possible. Flat mud houses scattered like tiny forts across the landscape suggest that there is little companionship among the people who toil here.

    When Ms. Zafran was given in marriage to Niamat Khan, his family took possession of her and she disappeared into their mud-walled compound a mile away. Her parents rarely saw her again; they are too poor even to have a photograph to remind them of her.

    In this barren world, where people grow hard to survive, their tenderness for their daughter seems all the more painful. They sat silently one recent day on the string beds that are the only furnishings of their bare one-room home.

    Ms. Zafran's father, Zaidan, an unsmiling, weatherbeaten man, spread his hands as if he had no words to offer.

    "When we heard the sentence, we couldn't breathe," he said at last. "We couldn't think. For days we couldn't eat. There was nothing we could do for our daughter." He said he had sold his family's only possessions, two thin goats, to help pay for a lawyer.

    His wife, Shiraka, whose beauty seems only to have been deepened by her difficult life, looked away. "I have been sucked dry by grief," she said.
  2. mental invalid

    mental invalid Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 11, 2001 Messages: 13,050 Likes Received: 8
  3. beardo

    beardo Guest

  4. Are2

    Are2 Guest

    let's not forget the other countries where rape victims are killed or stoned as 'punishment'

    ...iran, iraq, syria, and until very recently saudi arabia..

    any more to add to the list of great countries for women's civil liberties?!

    SCAGNETTI New Jack

    Joined: Mar 13, 2002 Messages: 0 Likes Received: 0
    i bet she was asking for it
  6. GEAsusONEnep

    GEAsusONEnep Guest

    Its wrong, but we can't do anything about it.
  7. deznatori

    deznatori Veteran Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 5,441 Likes Received: 0
    It's a woman. Second class citizen of the human race. Does it really matter when it's another country half way around the world? To me NO I don't give a fuck. There are too many stupid laws in the US to worry about that stupid shit. Let them have their own laws and worry about the fucked ones in your own. Laws where someone goes to prison longer for taking pictures of the dead than a man who made the dead.
    That is all

    Oh kiss your baby goodbye you little jesibelle
  8. DETO

    DETO Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 25, 2002 Messages: 11,348 Likes Received: 156
  9. Kr430n5_666

    Kr430n5_666 Banned

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004 Messages: 19,229 Likes Received: 30

  10. mental invalid

    mental invalid Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 11, 2001 Messages: 13,050 Likes Received: 8
    im glad to know that to know that the world is still full of dipshits....thanks for not letting me down fellas.......
  11. OPIUM3

    OPIUM3 Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 14, 2001 Messages: 1,315 Likes Received: 0