Pak women face charges under Islamic laws

None | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Islamabad
Mar 21, 2006 12:11 AM IST

The HRCP report also found that 311 female suicide cases and 299 attempted suicides were reported in 2005.

Nearly 80 per cent of the more than 6,000 women and girls on trial in Pakistan are facing charges under the controversial "Hudood" Islamic laws that mainly deal with crimes of adultery and rape, said a human rights report published on Monday.

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The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report also noted an increase in the killings of women in the name of honour, DailyTimes reported. Most such killings targetted women and girls who contracted marriages against family's will.

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Human rights and civil-society organisations are demanding repeal of the "Hudood" laws that were introduced by late military dictator Zia-ul-Haq in 1979, to gain support of Muslim clerics for his rule.

President General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in October 1999, has called on religious scholars to review the strict Islamic laws that are considered highly discriminatory against women.

The report quoted the findings of the government's National Commission on Status of Women, which said that 50 percent of the inmates of a government-run shelter house for women, called "Darul Amin", were implicated under "Hudood" laws.

The commission has suggested repeal of the laws, while the hardline Islamists, including the six-party politico-religious alliance of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, strongly oppose any change.

The HRCP has accused policemen of frequently violating the legal restrictions on keeping women overnight at police stations, saying that young girls are held in various jails despite a ban on holding them alongside adult criminals.

International organisations estimate that up to 90 percent of Pakistani women face domestic abuse. HRCP data showed that 96 cases of women suffering from severe burns had been reported between November 2004 and August 2005.

Similarly, 538 women and young girls were reported kidnapped during the same period.

The HRCP also found that 311 female suicide cases and 299 attempted suicides were reported in 2005.

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