Pakistan delays bill to reform Islamic rape laws
The Women Protection Bill was on the agenda of the national assembly on Wednesday but was not moved by the Govt.india Updated: Sep 14, 2006 15:19 IST
The Pakistan government on Thursday stepped up efforts to win larger parliamentary support for a bill to amend the Islamic rape laws, after delaying its presentation to the lower house for approval.
The Women Protection Bill was on the agenda of the national assembly on Wednesday but was not moved by the government, which said it wanted to garner support from all parties in parliament.
Rights groups have been demanding the government repeal the current laws which place an almost impossible burden of proof on women and expose victims to charges of adultery.
The postponement was seen as a climbdown by the government of President Pervez Musharraf under pressure from an alliance of hardline Islamic parties, which has over 60 lawmakers in the 342-member national assembly.
A government official said no new date has been fixed for presenting the bill in the parliament.
"The government is now holding talks with various political parties to develop a consensus before moving it for debate and approval," the government official said.
The draft was changed by the government on the recommendation of Islamic scholars appointed in consultation with the religious alliance.
The mainstream opposition Pakistan Peoples Party also rejected the changes, demanding that the original draft as approved by a select committee of the parliament last month should be passed.
Under the laws imposed by late military dictator General Ziaul Haq in 1979, women must produce four adult Muslim male witnesses to prove an act of rape.