“Her Honor: An Islamic Critique of the Rape Laws of Pakistan from a Woman-Sensitive Perspecitve”

This article critiques the rape laws of Pakistan from an Islamic gender-sensitive point of view. The author argues that the Hudood Ordinance and the Zina Ordinance, which criminalise extra-marital sexual relations, do not follow the gender-egalitarian spirit of Islamic laws, but rather are tainted by cultural patriarchy. The author examines and compares the Zina law and the legal prescriptions and definition of illegal sexual relations according to the Qur'an, finding that whilst the Qur'an does criminalise extra-marital sexual relations, the heavy evidentiary burden required should prevent easy and abusive attacks on women's 'honour', but in practice the Zina Ordinance does not respect these evidentiary burdens nor are punishments instituted where this burden is not discharged, as per the Qur'an. Further, the author argues that to subsume rape (zina-bil-jabr) into the Zina Ordinance encourages the judicial practice of converting rape cases into Zina cases which condemns the victims rather than the perpetrator of the crime. The author argues that contrary to what the Pakistani legislation would suggest, Islamic jurisprudence has categorised rape as a separate criminal offence even allowing for civil compensation to rape victims.

Quraishi, Asifa
Source publication: 
Michigan Journal of International Law, vol. 18: 287-320