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Pakistan's 'she couple' petitions SC

Shahzina Tariq and Shumail Raj challenge a high court verdict, which convicts them of deception for entering into a same sex marriage.

world Updated: Jun 19, 2007 14:28 IST

Pakistan's Shahzina Tariq and Shumail Raj, called the "she couple", have petitioned the Supreme Court, challenging a high court verdict that convicted them of deception for entering into a same sex marriage.

They have alleged that the Lahore High Court judge had filed the complaint himself, undertook the investigation process and sentenced them, which was against the law.

Shahzina, 26, and husband Raj, 31, were arrested last month after they appealed to the Lahore High Court for protection from relatives seeking to have their marriage annulled on grounds that it was against Islam for two women to wed.

Raj's gender change came to light during a medical exam by a court doctor.

In the last week of May, the court sentenced the couple to three years rigorous imprisonment each and a Rs.10,000 fine for entering into a same-sex marriage. The court had also ordered a medical examination of Raj when Shahzina's parents filed a complaint alleging that the former was female.

A five-member medical board later found that Raj had no male organ.

According to the medical report, "During her matriculation, the patient noted some changes in her voice and the development of breasts and appearance of hair on the face. She started having irregular periods in 1991. She got both breasts surgically removed in 1996 and had her uterus removed in 2006."

The judge sentenced the couple on the basis of this report.

The couple's advocate, Babar Awan, has challenged the conviction in the apex court contending that the medical report has described Raj as a "he" along with many manly features.

"Raj attained masculinity to a great extent and got his female parts removed. The court did not take these factors into account during sentencing," Awan told Daily Times.

The couple says they originally married to protect Shahzina from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts. According to them, Raj married Tariq at her request and with her full knowledge of his physical condition.